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Company fires 2,700 workers while they were sleeping days before Thanksgiving

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-11-26
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United Furniture Industry employees were given no explanation for why they were terminated so abruptly. Photograph: United Furniture Industries

A Mississippi-based furniture company abruptly fired nearly 2,700 workers in the US just days before Thanksgiving, according to multiple reports.

Right before midnight on 21 November, thousands of workers – many of whom were asleep – received a text message from United Furniture Industries (UFI) saying that they were terminated effective immediately and were no longer allowed to return to work.

“At the instruction of the board of directors … we regret to inform you that due to unforeseen business circumstances, the company has been forced to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all its employees, effective immediately,” the message, which the New York Post reviewed , said.

“Your layoff from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of Cobra,” a follow-up email from the company read, referring to a federal law that gives employees who lose their jobs the option to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance under certain circumstances.

The company also instructed its drivers to immediately “return equipment, inventory and delivery documents”, regardless of “whether or not [they] have completed [their] delivery”.

Employees were given no explanation for why they were terminated so abruptly. On Tuesday, UFI sent out an update regarding the retrieval of their belongings, which FreightWaves reviewed .

“As soon as the property manager can provide a safe and orderly process for former employees to come and gather their belongings, they will do so … We are not certain of the timeframe for this but will communicate proactively,” the email said.

In response, numerous employees expressed shock and frustration at their abrupt firing.

One employee told FreightWaves: “It’s not fair to the laborers who seriously worked so hard to be blindsided like this. It’s not fair to the mom who just had a baby to wonder if she even has health insurance to cover it. It’s not fair to the cancer patient in the midst of chemo about how to pay for her treatments.”

Another employee, TJ Martin, told WLBT: “This has been a drastic shock to every one of us … That puts a damper on everybody’s spirits, especially when you’re told to be ready to hit it hard Monday. Every one of us is dedicated to the company. We consider each other to be family members.”

On Wednesday, former employee Toria Neal filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by not providing at least 60 days notice of its shutdown.

Comments / 4113

Tamara Sharp
11-27

Neither Biden, Trump or any other US President controls power over privately owned companies. Gas prices, furniture makers and food suppliers decide what they do or charge. If consumers choose to buy Ikea, rather than American Made furniture, the company will go under. Rather than pay an American a living wage for a quality product, most shuffle over to Walmart to buy crap made by people overseas who earn crap. So, if you want to "blame someone" I suggest you look around your own house.

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Disappointed American
11-27

I am willing to bet the owners, investors and top management have been planing this for months. I am also willing to bet that the above will get all their pay, bonus and what ever financial package, golden parachute they can take. And they might get a pay bump to shut down operation. I am not sure what recourse employees have, but I am willing to bet they will lose in court if the company is gone. Laws are made to protect wealth, not workers.

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AP_000333.955f2c2ec73141b3bd3312a45b8e312f.2218
11-26

You will start to understand as more of it will occur and then you’ll scratch yourself on the head and go wow I guess I don’t want the government to run my country I want the country to be ran by the people

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