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Battery Maker Says It May Be Forced To Lay Off 1,000 Workers At Plants In Kansas City And Salina, Kansas

052620_Exide Technologies Platte County Missouri_Dan Margolies.png
Dan Margolies
KCUR 89.3
Exide Technologies' $35 million, 180,000-square-foot manufacturing site in Kansas City, Missouri. The company also operates facilities in Kansas City, Kansas, and Salina, Kansas.

A spokeswoman for Exide Tech, said the notices provided “a possible scenario” but wouldn’t necessarily come to pass.

A maker of industrial and automotive batteries says it may have to lay off nearly 1,000 workers at its plants in Kansas City and Salina, Kansas, if a sale of the company falls through and it’s forced to close down its operations.

In notices it filed last week with the Kansas Department of Commerce, Exide Technologies says the plants’ closures could result in the layoffs of 223 workers in Kansas City and 765 in Salina.

The company, which is based in Milton, Georgia, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on May 19. It is seeking to sell the business and meantime continues to operate with $40 million in loans it received as part of the bankruptcy filing.

Melissa Floyd, a spokeswoman for Exide, said the layoffs were “a possible scenario” that might not come to pass.

“There are no impending layoffs or anything like that,” she said. “And in fact, there are folks who interested in acquiring our operating assets. So it’s a possible scenario, not likely, but it’s just part of this whole process where we have to send out these letters.”

Less than three years ago, Exide invested more than $35 million in a 180,000 square-foot plant in Platte County that makes components for its batteries. Because that plant employs fewer than 50 people, Exide was not required to file a notice for that plant with Missouri authorities under the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act.

The WARN Act is a federal law that requires employers to provide advanced notification to workers when they’re faced with a plant closing or mass layoff. It only applies, however, to facilities with 50 or more workers.

Exide’s Kansas City, Kansas, plant makes industrial batteries for forklifts, trains and other large industrial applications. The Salina plant, one of the largest employers in that city, makes batteries for trucks, SUVs, cars, and lawn and garden applications.

The company operates in about 80 countries and employs around 8,000 workers worldwide. The Chapter 11 filing, however, only includes its North American operation, which accounts for about a third of its global workforce.

Floyd said the COVID-19 pandemic was a factor in the bankruptcy filing because it led to a slowdown in demand for Exide’s products.

“You don’t want to make more batteries than our customers are ordering,” she said.

This is the third time Exide, which traces its roots to 1888, has sought bankruptcy protection. It previously declared bankruptcy in 2002 and 2013.

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