The North Carolina Department of Commerce said it was hearing reports from people affected by the situation.
WINSTON-SALEM, NC – United Furniture Industries laid off more employees.
The Associated Press reports that Okolona, Miss.-based United Furniture Industries manufactures furniture under its brand and the Lane Home Furnishings brand, which it acquired from Heritage Home Group LLC in 2017 for an undisclosed sum. Lane was founded in Virginia in 1912 and merged with Tupelo-based Action Industries in 1972.
Furniture Today, a trade publication, reported that United fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vice president of sales in June. It then appointed Todd Evans, former president of Standard Furniture, an Alabama-based company, as its new CEO.
In addition to eight plants in Mississippi, United also had six plants in North Carolina and one in California. There were also layoffs at the North Carolina and California sites.
Employees woke up Monday night to a text message from the company that said:
IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM UFI/LANE. PLEASE READ: We are asking all employees not to report to their places of work tomorrow, November 22, 2022. Road drivers, whether or not you have completed your shipment, please promptly return the equipment, inventory, and shipping documents for those shipments that have been completed to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, NC, Verona, MS, or Victorville, CA. For clarification, do not make additional deliveries. More information will be provided tomorrow morning. Please be patient and we will proactively communicate when additional information becomes available.
Then, on Tuesday morning, employees received another message:
At the direction of the board of directors of United Furniture Industries, Inc. and each of its subsidiaries (the “Company”), we regret to report that unforeseen business circumstances have forced the Company to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all of its Employees effective immediately November 21, 2022, excluding road drivers who are in delivery traffic. It is expected that your dismissal from the Company will be permanent and all benefits will cease immediately without the provision of COBRA. Road drivers who are out on the delivery get paid for the rest of the week. Whether or not you have completed your shipment, please promptly return the Equipment, inventory, and delivery documents for those shipments that have been completed to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, NC, Verona, MS, or Victorville, CA location. For clarification, do not make additional deliveries. We regret that this difficult and unexpected situation has made this necessary. More information will be provided shortly. Thank you for your service and commitment.
WFMY reached out to the North Carolina Department of Commerce to see if a WARN notice had been filed ahead of the layoffs. The department said, “We are hearing reports from people affected by the situation and the state and local teams at local NCWorks career centers are already responding and helping people.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the WARN process is governed by federal law.
The department said not every company is required to file a WARN, depending on the circumstances of their particular situation.
Like submitting a TO WARN Note works according to the NC Department of Commerce:
A federal statute, the WARN statute, governs the process for filing a notice. The law aims to protect workers, their families and their communities by requiring employers to give 60 days’ notice of certain plant closures and mass layoffs. Businesses employing 100 or more workers, excluding part-time workers, must submit a WARN notification if preparing to do any of the following:
- Close a facility that affects at least 50 employees over a 30-day period. (This does not apply to employees who have worked less than six months in the last year or employees who work less than an average of 20 hours per week.)
- Conduct a mass layoff of at least 500 employees, or a layoff affecting between 50 and 499 employees if that number represents at least one-third of the employer’s workforce.
You must submit your WARN with the following:
- All affected employees or their representatives (e.g. a trade union)
- The North Carolina Division of Workforce Solutions, a unit of the NC Department of Commerce
- The chief elected official of the local government unit in which the site is located
After you submit the WARN, our Employee Rapid Response Team will contact you within 48 hours or less to assist your workers and your HR staff.
Ashely Home Furniture was at the Winston-Salem facility on Tuesday to make sure the employees who are now out of work will not stay there for too long.
“We are only here to offer jobs. Ashley has open positions in manufacturing, sales, transportation and administration. We conduct on-site interviews daily, which you can visit at our advance recruiting office. We offer competitive pay and benefits, and we know there are a lot of people out here looking for jobs during the holiday season, so we’re just here to show our support,” said Chris Fox, driver recruiter at Ashley Home Furniture.