Freightliner to lay off thousands in NC

GASTONIA, N.C. More than 2,100 employees at three plants will be cut because of sagging sales, according to Daimler Trucks North America.

Daimler is the parent company of Freightliner. The layoffs will affect plants in Gastonia and Mount Holly in Gaston County and Cleveland in Rowan County.

Nearly 1,300 employees at the Cleveland plant will be laid off -- about three quarters of it's workforce -- leaving about 700 jobs.

The Mount Holly facility will cut 600 workers and almost completely shut down. Company officials said it will perform limited component assembly work after March 13.

About 275 workers will lose their jobs at a parts plant in Gastonia. Freightliner cut more than 550 jobs at that plant in October.

The company said it will lay off workers on March 13.

United Auto Worker local president George Drexel said employees learned about the cuts Thursday. Drexel said workers knew cuts were coming but didn't expect them to be as deep as they were.

Daimler Trucks North America Chief Executive Chris Patterson said the layoffs were forced by "extremely difficult and challenging times for our industry." Patterson says the company looks forward to production resuming.

Freightliner is expected to recall some employees as the economy stabilizes.

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