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Layoffs hit Crown Tonka

By Staff | Feb 6, 2009

Company officials are being tight-lipped about how many people recently lost their jobs at Crown Tonka in Winnebago.

Leslie Mercer, who has worked 12 years at the manufacturing plant, was told he no longer had a job shortly after punching in for work at 3 p.m. on Jan. 20.

“I can understand they have to do what’s necessary to survive. But, there’s no compassion for the employees,” says Mercer. “They didn’t give us any prior notice or talk to us about it.”

The entire night shift was shut down and Mercer estimates 18 workers were let go.

Dave Mercer, who was given the bad news after lunch, says at least 10 people on the day shift also were released.

“I had no idea this was going to happen. It was a shock. They didn’t say anything, until they did it,” says Dave Mercer.

Company officials in Winnebago and corporate offices in Plymouth did not return telephone calls to the Register.

City Administrator Jennifer Feely says she’s aware of the layoffs, however, company officials have not provided her any specifics.

The Mercers say a form signed by the employees listed current economic conditions as the reason for the layoffs.

The workers were told they could apply for unemployment benefits.

While understanding why there were layoffs, some of the employees felt how the company made its decision was unfair because it wasn’t based on years of service.“I had virtually a perfect attendance in my 12 years. They went after the people with three weeks vacation and higher wages. They wanted to save money,” Leslie Mercer says.

“Why would they get rid of people who know the jobs and they won’t have to train and keep less experienced workers?” adds Dave Mercer.

For now, Leslie Mercer doesn’t plan to look for work right away because he thinks there’s ‘a 50-50 chance’ he’ll get called back.

“They told us it’s possible, but not real likely,” he says. “I like working there. If I do go back, I’ll probably have to start at the bottom.”