Durham-based auto parts maker looks to reduce work force by nearly half

Posted March 19, 2009 12:33 p.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2009 3:49 p.m. EDT

— Auto parts-maker AW North Carolina is offering a “voluntary separation package” to all its 1,100 employees.

The company says “approximately 500 team members” are expected to be affected by the program.

In January, some 280 workers were placed on what AW called “temporary time off.”

“These are not layoffs,” said AW spokesperson Rick Roundtree. “Rather this is a voluntary program aimed at reducing headcount to meet the production needs of the auto industry for the foreseeable future.”

AW operates an 830,000-square-foot plant in Treyburn Corporate Park. Production began in 2000.

In a statement, the company said that the separation packages were being offered “based on an assessment which shows a significant drop in anticipated production needs through the remainder of this year and into 2010.”

“We have come to the conclusion that a smaller production work force is inevitable until the auto industry rebounds and our production needs increase – a scenario that nobody can predict,” AW added.

Some employees have already accepted the packages, the company said.

“We anticipate the reduction of our work force to affect approximately 500 team members,” AW added. “The final number of people affected and the ultimate timing of the work force reduction will be determined over the next several weeks as we evaluate the overall impact of the economic conditions in the automotive industry. It is our hope to achieve these reductions through this voluntary separation program.”

The packages include severance pay based on length of service and lump-sum payments for health care assistance as well as other “transition needs,” AW added.