More Timken employees to be idled

A group of employees at Cairo’s Timken plant will be without a job later this month, according to a company spokesperson. Nearly 55 people have been told they will be laid off as of Feb. 27, 51 of those are hourly employees, and three are salaried. After this round of layoffs, the Cairo facility will have 400 people working there.
As late as 2006 total employment at the local plant totaled 520.
“The layoffs do not reflect any particular contract, but rather, widespread, dramatic declines in every one of our end markets, except military aerospace, which the Cairo plant does not serve,” states Lorrie Paul Crum, manager of global media and strategic communications for The Timken Company. “We’ve seen automotive and mobile machinery markets (construction, agricultural, mining equipment, etc.) all fall sharply, precipitated by the credit crisis first in the United States and then followed by Europe and Asia.”
This layoff is not the first action the Cairo plant has taken to cut costs. Already, there have been layoffs, implementation of shorter work weeks, extension of its holiday shut down and encouragement for employees to take voluntary time off. “We did many things to try and pull back, scale back in hopes we would see demand come back, and of course it hasn’t,” Crum says.  If demand does return, however, the laid off employees would be called back to the job, she contends.
Timken’s Cairo plant manufactures bearings, needle and roller type, used in systems to reduce friction and improve efficiency. Timken’s customers have included many in the automotive field. “Over the last five years Timken has been developing away from the automotive industry. That (plan of action) served us well, otherwise we would have had much more severe layoffs,” Crum says. She further explains a company strategy has been to increase its prices to some automotive customers. “The responsible thing is to make sure you are not engaging in business that you are going to lose (money) on, and also not to be overexposed to one industry,” Crum says.
Crum would not comment on any specific contract, but a current and former employee of the company said that the local plant learned last week that Timken had lost a contract with Delphi, a General Motors supplier, for the production of an engine bearing.
Both a former and a current employee say the Delphi contract has been a key contract for the Cairo plant since The Torrington Company came to Cairo.
At one point, according to the former Timken employee, 25 percent of the local plant’s floor plan was occupied by the highly automated line producing the engine bearings for Delphi and production topped one million bearings a week.
Globally, Timken has 62 plants and 104 sales offices, technology centers and distribution warehouses located in 27 countries on six continents. In addition to bearings, Timken facilities around the world produce alloy steels and related products and services

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