Job Cuts Possible Before Christmas

PARAGOULD, AR  (KAIT) -- Employees at the American Railcar Industries plant in Paragould could be out of a job just before Christmas. Of the 600 employees at the Paragould plant, more than 200 could be out of work unless business picks up.

ARI sent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letters in accordance with a federal law, warning employees of the possible massive layoff. It's required, by law, to tell workers and local city officials about the move 60 days in advance.

"If there aren't any new orders to come in and follow those, then there is a possibility that employees won't have production to work on," said Dean Inman, human resources manager at ARI.

ARI currently has orders to build until the middle of December, after which the company will be forced to lay off employees.

The facility in Paragould builds covered hopper cars, which are cars used to transport grains and minerals. Demand for those types of cars is down, partially due to a slumping economy. More companies are cutting back on materials, which means those cars aren't needed as much.

Inman says his employees are hard workers, and ARI is trying to give as much notice as they can.

The plant in Marmaduke employs 570 people and is still expanding. Officials with ARI, based in St. Charles, Missouri, hope to transfer employees from Paragould to Marmaduke when possible. "We'll do that as often as we can and in the end, that will perhaps, alleviate some of the numbers that we think we might have had on layoff," said Inman.