December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Leggett to cut 71 jobs in Elyria

ELYRIA — A financial profile released earlier this month by Leggett & Platt Inc., said the company is “poised to grow.”

Not apparently in Elyria. In a May 12 letter to the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services, Michael Altman, Leggett labor relations director, said the company is laying off 71 employees from its site at 337 Woodland Ave., by July 18.

The letter said the layoffs involve 66 production workers, three administrative or clerical workers and two managers. The letter did not say why the layoffs are occurring.

Leggett began as a bedspring manufacturer in 1885 in southwest Missouri, according to its website. Leggett, which had about $3.7 billion in annual revenue last year, makes a wide range of components including car parts made in Elyria. Leggett has 130 locations in 18 countries and 19,000 employees.

Reached Tuesday night, Mayor Holly Brinda said she just found out about the layoffs. Brinda said she was unsure how many workers are employed in Elyria and how much annual tax revenue Leggett pays.

While the layoffs are bad, Brinda said Elyria tax collection is up from two years ago and Elyria’s economic outlook is improving.

“With other companies beginning to pick up momentum, perhaps some of those workers can be absorbed,” she said.

If the layoffs can’t be averted, a “rapid response team” from the department will assist the laid-off workers, according to department spokesman Benjamin Johnson. Workers will receive job leads, cover letter and resume writing assistance and information on unemployment compensation. Lorain County Job and Family Services, which is independent from the department, will also provide assistance, Johnson said.

The layoffs are an example of a failed economic policy by Republican Gov. John Kasich, according to a spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald. Lauren Hitt said in a Tuesday news release that Kasich’s priority is tax cuts for the rich.

“This most recent round of layoffs is just the latest example of the governor putting the well-off and well-connected ahead of hardworking Ohioans,” Hitt said.

Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party and the Kasich campaign, said in an email that Kasich has created about 250,000 jobs since taking office in 2011 and the unemployment rate has dropped from 9.1 percent to 5.7 percent.

“Ed FitzGerald should be ashamed of himself for politicizing these employees,” Schrimpf wrote. “Governor Kasich has worked hard to turn Ohio around and it’s been working.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.