Janesville32.4°

Simmons announces layoffs

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 2, 2008
— A Janesville mattress manufacturer laid off 71 workers this week, a corporate spokeswoman confirmed this morning.

The Simmons Co. announced the layoffs to workers on Wednesday, said Christine Foster, speaking from the company’s Atlanta headquarters.


The workers’ last day of work was Friday, she said.


Fifteen of the layoffs were “voluntary,” Foster said. That means those employees volunteered to be laid off for 60 days. Those workers are assured of work if they return after the 60 days, Foster said.


The remaining layoffs were nonvoluntary. Foster could not say whether those workers would return to work, but she said Simmons will hire more workers if and when they’re needed, in response to market demand.


Simmons employed about 350 people in Janesville before the layoffs, Foster said.


The affected employees are eligible for Simmons’ Employee Assistance Program, which includes job, financial and personal counseling. They will also be immediately eligible for unemployment and health benefits under the federal COBRA legislation, Foster said.


All the layoffs were of production workers, Foster said. Workers on both shifts were laid off.


“Simmons equalized the number of production workers on each shift,” she said.


The nationwide economic slowdown may be playing a small role in the slow demand for Simmons products, Foster said, but corporate officials believe the real culprit is the fact that springtime has always been a time of slow sales in the bedding industry.


So these layoffs are a response to the seasonal ebb and flow of market demand, Foster said.


Other bedding manufacturers have announced layoffs this spring, Foster said.


The Simmons plant in Atlanta eliminated a shift last month, and layoffs are being considered at other plants, Foster said.


Simmons has been dealing with higher fuel and materials costs, like manufacturers everywhere, Foster said, and it instituted a “small price increase” earlier in the year.


The Simmons Bedding Co. Janesville plant opened in 1980.


Simmons is one of the world's largest mattress manufacturers, manufacturing and marketing a broad range of products. It operates 21 conventional bedding manufacturing facilities and two juvenile bedding manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.



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