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Chainsaw manufacturer Stihl Incorporated abruptly furloughed one-third of its Virginia Beach, Virginia workforce on Wednesday, August 23. The company gave no advance notice of the bloodletting to the hundreds of workers put out of a job.
Workers reportedly received a mass text message at 11:52 a.m. of their Wednesday shift as supervisors walked the lines telling them to leave in the next eight minutes. Outside, they were met with a contingent of Virginia Beach Police who were called in to “direct traffic.”
Stihl is the world’s largest manufacturer of chainsaws, and produces other outdoor power equipment. The company has production facilities in multiple countries. Its Virginia Beach division, which employs approximately 2,500, is the largest. The factory spans 180 acres and produces the majority of Stihl products for the American market as well as one hundred other countries. According to the local economic development board, Stihl is the third largest employer in the city outside of US military bases.
After being railroaded out of the facility last week, workers were sent an email from Stihl USA’s newly minted CEO Chris Keffer, who justified the furloughs by pointing to high inventory levels. “Slowdowns in the market that have been affecting the entire Outdoor Power Equipment industry persist. As my predecessor, Terry Horan, shared just six weeks ago, the reduction in demand for our products has resulted in us having a major excess of inventory, and our inventory levels remain high today.”
The furloughed workers, who bear no responsibility for these purported troubles and have been kept entirely in the dark about the future of their jobs, were told they should brace