Joy Global to temporarily close operating unit, lay off 113

Joy Global has temporarily closed a unit because of low mining customer demand.

Joy Global Surface Mining Inc. announced today it will temporarily close an operating unit its Milwaukee facility and lay off 113 workers beginning Nov. 30.

Joy Global plans to lay off 109 union workers and terminate four non-union workers from the Original Equipment department at the facility, located at 4400 W. National Ave., during the temporary closure. The positions impacted include welders, loaders, assemblers, inspectors, overhead crane operators, spray painters, machinists, electricians and others.

The Original Equipment department makes the largest heavy mining machinery. There are a total of 800 workers at the National Avenue facility, and the other departments, including the Machinery and Motor Shop departments, will continue operating during the unit closure.

“It’s definitely not the whole facility,” said Caley Clinton, advertising and PR manager at Joy Global. “We even have other manufacturing operations here that are not affected by this. It’s just a lack of work for that department. We have work that we’re wrapping up in that area right now, but given the commodity markets, our customers, there’s just not a lot of demand right now for big equipment.”

The union workers at the plant are represented by United Steelworkers Union Local 1114. The union has bumping rights in its collective bargaining agreement, so it is difficult to determine which employees will be affected, and in which phase of the layoff they will be included. The layoffs will occur in phases beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through May.

“We wanted to give them a 60 days heads up,” Clinton said. “But we don’t know when work will come back. This downturn just has dragged on longer than I think most people have anticipated.”

Joy Global also revealed in the filing that it has laid off more than 150 employees prior to Sept. 30 because of declining sales at the company, who also have recall rights.

“At this time, the company is unable to estimate when the operating unit will start up,” Joy Global representatives said in a WARN mass layoff filing with the state. “We assure you that all laid off and terminated employees will be paid all earned wages and agreed-upon fringe benefits upon being laid off or terminated.”

“We anticipate all layoffs of union employees will be temporary although, at this time, we do not have a reasonable estimate of the duration of the layoff. The Union employees will have certain recall rights under their collective bargaining agreement.”

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Development Board will work to assist the dislocated workers.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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