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300 more county jobs axed: Recession blamed as firms shut sites, cut workers
[March 14, 2009]

300 more county jobs axed: Recession blamed as firms shut sites, cut workers

(Ventura County Star (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mar. 14--The recession has forced yet another Ventura County business to close its doors, while others are cutting jobs to increase efficiency and respond to changing demand.

It adds up to more than 300 additional county jobs that will be lost by the end of next month, according to a review of layoff notices filed with the state. The county's unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent in January.

Celestica Inc. plans to close its Oxnard location, removing 81 jobs from the community next month.

Celestica is an international contract electronics manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. The Oxnard location specializes in flat-panel display repair.

A company spokesperson could not be reached for comment Friday.

At the start of 2008, the company announced it would make job cuts, plant closures and cost reductions in addition to ones made in 2007. It did not announce specifics at that time.

Celestica's revenue for 2008 was down 4.9 percent from the previous year.

In the company's earnings conference call at the end of January, company leaders spoke of Celestica's intent to accelerate its restructuring plan this year to more aggressively reduce costs and capacity.

The company reportedly is planning to close a plant in Minneapolis by November as part of the restructuring.

Oxnard also is losing jobs at Workrite Uniform, which sent a letter to the county last week stating it would permanently lay off about 75 people on March 6. The letter noted that employees would be "paid in lieu of notice." The company was listed as one of the county's top employers in the Ventura County 2009 Real Estate & Economic Outlook. It was listed as having 415 employees in January.

Workrite, which manufacturers flame-resistant uniforms, is a subsidiary of privately owned Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. The company did not provide details about the cuts beyond stating they were done to "maintain business efficiency." In the letter to the county Board of Supervisors, Workrite President Keith Suddaby wrote: "During 2008 and now into 2009 Workrite has experienced changes and fluctuations affecting the marketing, manufacturing and operational aspects of our company. Because of marketing trends and operational projections, it is necessary that Workrite carry out the reduction in force." He added that the company had no alternative.

Three other local companies have sent letters to the state and local governments informing them of layoffs planned for April.

Farmers Services LLC in Simi Valley plans to cut 82 jobs April 10; Zebra Technologies Corp. in Camarillo plans to cut 44 jobs April 27; and Hollingshead International in Ventura plans to cut 35 jobs April 6.

Spokesmen for Farmers Group Inc. said the positions being cut in Simi Valley were announced in October. Employees who answer calls about auto and home insurance were told their positions would be moving to three locations: Hillsboro, Ore.; Olathe, Kan.; and Austin, Texas, said Jerry Davies, media relations director.

The company held job fairs and resume writing classes for those who chose not to relocate, but gave employees until April 10 to make that decision. Several employees are still considering the relocation offer, but those who choose not to move will be given severance packages, Davies said.

About 20 people already have decided to relocate, while others have retired or taken other jobs with the company. The 82 positions reported to the state are what remains.

Farmers has close to 1,100 jobs at its Simi Valley building and, though the company is moving the 120 positions to its new service centers, it anticipates growing other jobs in Simi Valley in the coming years, said Mark Toohey, senior vice president of media relations.

"The Simi Valley facility for Farmers remains very important, very viable," he said.

Farmers has been in that location since 1982. The company will most likely grow jobs in commercial insurance for businesses in that location, Toohey said.

The cuts at Zebra Technologies are part of a larger plan for the company to move its U.S. printer production to a third-party manufacturer in China, said Marty Holtzman, human resources director. The company, headquartered in Illinois, announced the plan a year ago and is having to make the shift to keep up with competitors that have already made that switch, he said.

Zebra has between 600 and 650 employees in Camarillo, Holtzman said. Many affected by the cuts are production floor workers.

Holtzman said the company is providing an array of resources beyond a severance package to help employees transition to new jobs.

The company has brought in the county's Rapid Response to offer services such as job banks and resume assistance, brought in an outplacement firm to help people find jobs, offered computer training, opened a career center on site and plans to have a job fair later this month with local employers and employment agencies.

More cuts will follow. The company plans to have all production moved by the middle of 2010, which Holtzman estimates eventually will leave around 200 employees in Camarillo, about one-third of its current work force.

To see more of the Ventura County Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Copyright (c) 2009, Ventura County Star, Calif.

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