Siemen’s to lay off 400 full-time workers

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FORT MADISON - The Siemen's Energy company announced Tuesday it will lay-off 407 of its full-time Fort Madison employees.

The workers will get their 60 day-notices Wednesday, but many in town knew this announcement was already coming. The Siemen's Energy company is Fort Madison's largest employer, but in two months, it no longer will be.

"It's bad for the community," former Siemen's worker Lynn Hambly said. "A lot of people have been here for years"

Hambly was inside of the plant Tuesday, and claims the mood of the workers was very somber. Many of the workers know what will be coming on Wednesday.

"They had the radio off in there for a lot of their meetings," Hambly said. "When all the meetings were over with, they had an employee come up, and ask, 'Please turn the radios on. It's awful sad in there,' so we turned the XM radio on for them."

Siemen's Energy produces wind energy out of wind turbines. It claims that the low cost of natural gas now is making wind energy less desirable. Also, the company blames the Wind Energy Tax Credit not being extended in Washington D.C. for some of the job loss.

"There's just a low demand for energy in the economy," City Manager Byron Smith said. "Until those factors turn around, I don't see big changes in this."

Smith talked to Siemen's on Tuesday by phone. He also knew "the call" would soon be coming. Nonetheless, it's not something they wanted to hear.

"We kind of got wind of it yesterday," Smith said. "But nothing official."

Current employees were seen leaving the plant around 5 p.m. Tuesday. None of them would speak on camera, but some said they were very disappointed.

"They have to take their unemployment, and hope for the best," Hambly said. "A lot of the employees are happy here."

The last day for these 407 full-time employees will be Monday, November 19th. The city is hoping many of these employees apply for part-time construction jobs near the Orascom fertilizer site that will go up outside of Wever.

The company also will be paying each employee a full month severance at the very least. A spokesperson for the company said Tuesday, "it's never easy" to remove these types of workers from your staff.

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