A furniture maker is firing its 2,700 workers via text and email while they were asleep

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A Mississippi company that has become one of the nation’s largest furniture companies laid off nearly its entire workforce via email and text two days before Thanksgiving Day.

Approximately 2,700 workers, most of whom live in the Northeast Mississippiwith other Art North Carolina and California, lost their jobs in the early hours of Tuesday. The digital message was made at night while many were asleep.

Shortly after the heartbreaking message, one delivery driver was arrested by police in Mississippi and charged with attempting to remove furniture from his truck. He has not been identified and no further details have been released.

United Furniture Industries sent out a memo to workers by email and text late Monday evening, telling them not to report for their shifts on Tuesday. The layoffs come as economic experts predict a recession in 2023.

The memo said the layoffs were made in “At the direction 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 lay off all of its employees, effective immediately, November 21.” .

The memo did not provide any specific details about what led to the layoffs, simply referring to a “difficult and unexpected situation.” furniture today the trade publication reported that United has fired its chief executive, replacing him with current CEO Todd Evans.

United Furniture Industries sent a memo to workers via email and text late Monday evening, telling them not to report for their shifts on Tuesday

The memo did not provide any specific details about what led to the layoffs, simply referring to a “difficult and unexpected situation.” Business publication Furniture Today reported that United has sacked its chief executive, replacing him with current CEO Todd Evans (pictured)

The company’s CFO and executive vice president of sales were also let go in June. Evans was the former president of Alabama-based Standard Furniture.

A second email told employees that “the layoff from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will cease immediately without the provision of COBRA,” referring to a federal law that gives people who have lost their jobs the ability to keep employer-sponsored health insurance. coverage under certain circumstances.

Some employees were fast asleep when the emails hit their inboxes. Others have never seen emails before going to work.

The company’s delivery drivers were told to return to the United Furniture location immediately to drop off their trucks, most told they would be paid by the end of the week.

About 2,700 workers, most of whom live in northeast Mississippi, others in North Carolina and California, lost their jobs Monday.

About 2,700 workers, most of whom live in northeast Mississippi, others in North Carolina and California, lost their jobs Monday.

The Daily Press reports that a United Furniture Industries driver was arrested in Monroe County, Mississippi for allegedly attempting to remove furniture from his truck.

Audrey Garth, 37, is charged with grand larceny. Authorities say they recovered furniture from a nearby parking lot in connection with the arrest.

At least one former employee, Toria Neal, sued her former employer, saying the sudden layoffs violated federal law because workers were not given the required 60-day notice before the company terminated.

Neil has been with UFI for over eight years. She accuses her former employers of violating the Law on Adjustment and Retraining of Workers.

Neal’s lawyer, Jack Simpson, reported this Cargo waves: “Under the WARN Act, United Furniture employees were entitled to either 60 days’ notice or 60 days’ severance pay — neither of which was granted.”

Simpson added, “If appointed class counsel, we look forward to vigorously investigating United Furniture’s actions and will seek the maximum compensation to which the fired employees are legally entitled.”

United became one of the largest furniture companies in the country.  The Northwest Mississippi Daily Journal reports that its competitor, Ashley Furniture, has now begun hiring former United employees

United became one of the largest furniture companies in the country. The Northwest Mississippi Daily Journal reports that its competitor, Ashley Furniture, has now begun hiring former United employees

Workers of the United Furniture Industry.  Some employees were fast asleep when the emails hit their inboxes.  Others have never seen emails before going to work

Workers of the United Furniture Industry. Some employees were fast asleep when the emails hit their inboxes. Others have never seen emails before going to work

While another former employee told Freight Waves: “We would go to our friends’ houses and say, ‘Hey, this chair or this piece of furniture was made in our factory.’ We were really proud of our work, and this is how we are treated.”

In a separate interview, a former employee of the company’s California department said VVNG: “I don’t think any of us are ready for that, especially before the holidays. This will definitely affect my family and my immediate plans, and I don’t know who to turn to or what to do now.”

The Northwest Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Ashley Furniture has begun recruiting former United employees.

Lee County Administrator Bill Benson told the newspaper that the layoffs caught local residents by surprise. Benson said, “I know the board is willing to do whatever it can to help accommodate these people.”

While in nearby Monroe County, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Baulch said, “We are heartbroken and praying for all those affected. We are working and partnering with our economic development friends at CDF, Three Rivers, WIN Job Center and Accelerate MS to help deploy as many resources and accessible job information and rapid response as possible.”

The company’s communications team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Furniture companies that achieved record sales during the pandemic have suffered since returning to normal.  United laid off 490 staff in July before sacking its top managers and then most of its workforce

Furniture companies that achieved record sales during the pandemic have suffered since returning to normal. United laid off 490 staff in July before sacking its top managers and then most of its workforce

Experts believe that the company’s demise may be related to such problems as inflation, the situation in Ukraine and high gas prices, the Daily Press reports.

This was told by the former consultant of United in the division of the company in North Carolina, Robert Cottam Greensboro.com: “In 2021, with the pandemic, many furniture manufacturers held gangbuster sales. But when those inflationary factors hit hard, it really squeezed the discretionary spending of those buying promotional furniture.”

United Furniture Industries, based in Okolona, ​​Miss., makes furniture under its brand and the Lane Home Furnishings brand, which it acquired in 2017 from Heritage Home Group LLC for an undisclosed amount. Lane was founded in 1912 in Virginia and merged with Tupelo-based Action Industries in 1972.

In addition to eight plants in Mississippi, United also had six plants in North Carolina and one in California. Layoffs also took place in the states of North Carolina and California.

In July, the company dismissed 490 employees.

Complete layoff notices received by the United Furniture Workers

This first message was sent on Monday evening:

“We ask all employees not to report to their workplaces tomorrow, November 22, 2022.

Drivers on the road, whether or not you have completed your delivery, immediately return the equipment, inventory and delivery documents for those deliveries that have been made to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Verona, Mississippi , or Victorville, CA.

Just to be clear, do not make any additional deliveries. More information will be provided tomorrow morning. Please be patient and we will actively communicate as more information becomes available.”

On Tuesday morning, the workers received a second message:

“By order of the Board of Directors of United Furniture Industries, Inc. and all of its subsidiaries (the “Company”), 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 of its employees, effective immediately on November 21, 2022, with the exception of drivers , which are on the road, which are on delivery.

Your termination from the Company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will cease immediately without the provision of COBRA.

Drivers who are not on the road are paid the balance of the week. Regardless of whether you have completed your delivery, promptly return the equipment, inventory and shipping documents to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Verona, Mississippi, or Victorville, California.

Just to be clear, do not make any additional deliveries. We regret that this difficult and unexpected situation has made this necessary. More information will be provided soon. Thank you for your service and dedication.”

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