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Herman Miller Inc. ends up cutting 1,000 workers, with 500 hourly employees gone by week's end

Monday 19 January 2009

Herman Miller Inc. will lay off 500 hourly employees this week, with most of the layoffs at plants Zeeland, Holland and Spring Lake.

The widespread chill in the office-furniture industry led the company to seek voluntary buyouts, layoffs and cuts to temporary jobs late last year.

In November, the company had estimated up to 650 job eliminations and layoffs by this month, including an offer for enhanced buyouts. In mid-December, the company announced a new total of 1,000, reflecting the higher than expected number of those taking the buyout.

By the end of this week, the last 500 hourly employees from the 1,000 jobs affected will leave the company through voluntary or involuntary layoffs, Herman Miller spokeswoman Susan Koole said this morning.

\"Those affected by layoffs do not receive a severance, but are eligible for unemployment benefits and access to company healthcare benefits,\" Koole said.

The company employs just less than 4,000 in West Michigan after the cuts take effect.

Last month, Herman Miller executives said order rates were down 22 percent and backlogs down nearly as much, at 19 percent. The company deferred making its traditional year-ahead outlook, saying the industry was in too much upheaval to make an accurate prediction.

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