A Dubuque-based manufacturer is slashing pay, closing additional facilities and continuing its temporary suspension of manufacturing in the U.S. and Mexico.
Flexsteel Industries this week filed a new report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that laid out its short-term plans as the effects of COVID-19 are felt globally.
“The world around us has changed with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus,” the statement reads in part. “The well-being of employees, customers and the communities in which the company operates continue to be the company’s top priorities.”
The SEC filing notes that Flexsteel’s compensation committee has approved a 25% temporary reduction to the base salary of CEO Jerry Dittmer and four other top executives. Base salaries have been reduced by 20% for all non-executive Flexsteel employees with salaries exceeding $150,000.
Dittmer did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
In its filing, Flexsteel also reported the permanent closure of a distribution facility in Lancaster, Pa. Distribution centers in Indiana, California and Kansas remain open.
Flexsteel officials previously announced a two-week shutdown at its Seippel Road facility in Dubuque beginning on March 27.
Greg Laufenberg, a production worker at Flexsteel in Dubuque, said local manufacturing operations have not restarted since. Laufenberg is a union steward for Local 1861 of the United Steelworkers, the union representing the majority of Flexsteel production workers.
Initially, Flexsteel employees were told that they likely would return to work on Monday of this week. However, they received a call last week informing them that the shutdown would be extended for an additional week.
Laufenberg said the current plan is for production to resume on Monday, April 20, but that could be pushed back.
“It is kind of nerve-wracking,” Laufenberg said. “We’re all paying attention to the news and just hoping they get a handle on this thing.”
For many employees, the anxiety is hitting them on multiple fronts.
Laufenberg said some are afraid that a return to work could increase their risk of being exposed to COVID-19. The prevailing sentiment, however, is workers want to return to the plant.
“We want to be safe, but we also want to get back and make money,” he said. “We want to make sure our company is able to make money.”
Within its SEC disclosure, the company states that “all manufacturing within the United States and Mexico has been temporarily suspended, pending weekly reviews of the external environment and demand.”
Workforce changes also have affected Flexsteel’s corporate employees.
A letter recently sent to City of Dubuque officials revealed that 40 employees at Flexsteel’s corporate headquarters, located in the Port of Dubuque, were laid off effective March 23. These layoffs are expected to last three months.