Italian-owned CNH Industrial manufacturers tractors at the Mount Pleasant plant.
Kathleen Prause, spokesperson for CNH Industrial, said the company made the cuts to its workforce in response to market conditions.
Prause declined to comment any further on the layoffs.
Jeff Vassh, president of UAW Local 180, said those who were laid off were hourly workers that worked on the production line. Back in 2004, the union had about 347 in its membership, but had about 835 members prior to the layoff. In the last year, the company hired about 130 people.
“Agriculture is a cyclical business,” Vassh said. “It rises every couple of years and has a tendency to go into a slump. But we almost tripled our workforce. It’s hard to watch these people leave. It affects me deeply.”
The employees received about three days notice prior to the layoffs, which had been expected to happen in the first two weeks of December. Because the layoffs happened earlier than expected, the workers won’t be receiving holiday pay, he said.
More people are being transferred to other positions within the company to help train other employees. Once the training is completed, those employees may be laid off as well, Vassh said.
The union is currently working with the United Way of Racine County and the union’s community services and chaplaincy to help support the workers.
“We are also reaching out for assistance with the Racine County Food Bank for holiday food baskets,” Vassh said. “We’ll try to assist them in any way we can.”