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Published: Wednesday, 5/10/2006

Whirlpool cutting 4,500 jobs, closing three plants


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. Whirlpool Corp. said today that it will eliminate 4,500 jobs by closing three plants and consolidating corporate offices and other sites following its acquisition of rival appliance maker Maytag Corp.

The moves come in the wake of Whirlpool s $1.8 billion acquisition of Maytag on March 31, extending its lead as the nation s biggest appliance maker.

Whirlpool plans to close Maytag washer and dryer plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Ill.; and Searcy, Ark. Laundry manufacturing sites in Clyde, Ohio, and Marion, Ohio, will absorb the production, Whirlpool spokesman Daniel Verakis said.

Also slated to close are Maytag s corporate headquarters and research center in Newton, Iowa, as well as administrative offices in Schaumburg, Ill., Canada and Mexico.

Verakis said Whirlpool said the functions of the former Maytag corporate headquarters will be consolidated with those in Benton Harbor, where Whirlpool is based.

Former Maytag administrative offices in Canada and Mexico will be consolidated into Whirlpool offices in those locations, Verakis said.

The cuts represent about 5.6 percent of its current work force of 80,000 employees. But Whirlpool said it would add about 1,500 jobs at unspecified Whirlpool facilities, reducing the net loss of jobs to 3,000 positions, or 3.8 percent of its work force.

We are taking these actions to rapidly restore the competitiveness of the Maytag brands, Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. This is an important step in our integration process that will allow us to drive continuing performance improvements and will better align our brands, products and operations with the markets we serve domestically and globally.

The factory in Herrin, Ill., which employs about 1,000 people, will continue production until the end of this year, as will the plant in Searcy, Ark., which has about 700 workers.

The Newton, Iowa, factory, which employs 1,000 workers, will continue production into 2007, the company said.

Whirlpool still has to negotiate the terms of the closings with unions at the Newton, Iowa, and Herrin, Ill., plants. The Arkansas plant is nonunion.

The 4,500 positions to be cut include 1,800 salaried jobs, but several hundred people at the affected offices will be offered posts at other Whirlpool locations, the company said.

Whirlpool shares fell 92 cents to $92.17 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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