Almost 1,000 Illinois workers affected by mass layoffs in February

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

Mar 08, 2017

Nearly 1,000 workers last month were notified by their employers that they’ll soon be out of a job, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Eight Illinois companies announced the mass layoffs will affect a total of 982 employees through the end of July as five of those employers close their doors, February’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (Warn) report shows.

Under the 2004 Illinois WARN Act, employers with 75 or more full-time workers are required to notify the state 60 days in advance of any impending layoffs and company closures.

Among the largest layoffs were at United Airlines, which handed pink slips to 300 workers at its Chicago headquarters as the company undergoes restructuring.

A spokeswoman for United Airlines told the Chicago Tribune that most of the planned layoffs already have happened and will continue until May 31, but that the 300 managers who will be affected account for just 0.3 percent of the 87,000 people it employs.

In 2016, United generated $2.3 billion in profits against $36.6 billion in total revenue, while returning $628 million to employees “in the form of profit sharing,” Business Insider reported in January. Overall, profits were down from $7.8 billion in 2015, largely because of the $1.6 billion in income taxes the airline paid last year after previously receiving $3.1 billion in tax credits.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company announced 246 layoffs at its Franklin Park manufacturing plant, which produces the popular dipping tobacco brands Copenhagen and Skoal. The plant is closing its doors after more than 40 years and will move operations to its Nashville, Tenn., facility.

Another 120 employees in mostly corporate positions are being laid of at Sears Holdings’ Hoffman Estates headquarters as part of a restructuring plan with the goal of saving at least $1 billion in costs this year.

Of the 982 workers being laid off, 770 are employed by companies in Cook County. The remaining employees affected by mass layoffs were in Adams (87), DuPage (47) and McLean (78) counties, according to the report.

Other companies reporting mass layoffs include:

  • Sycamore Healthcare, a skilled nursing home in Quincy, is set to close and will lay off 87 employees by April 7;
  • Educational games seller Marbles the Brain Store announced 40 layoffs after filing for bankruptcy;
  • Chicago-based Recycled Paper Greetings, which the Tribune reports is moving its facility to Napa Valley, Calif., reported 64 layoffs through the end of July;
  • Downers Grove-based shipping container company Yang Ming America Corp. is letting go of 47 employees as a result of consolidation and relocation;
  • Insurance giant State Farm Corporate South, headquartered in Bloomington, will lay off 78 workers at the end of April.

The 982 mass layoffs announced in February’s WARN report is the highest since August 2016, when 1,044 workers were notified of layoffs. In January, employers handed 429 employees pink slips, bringing this year’s total to 1,411.

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