Greenfield auto parts plant lays off 336 employees in temporary closure

An automotive parts plant that opened less than a year ago in Greenfield said Thursday it has shut down its operations and temporarily laid off 336 employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BWI Group—also known as BeijingWest Industries Co.—said the layoffs are necessary because Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered all non-essential businesses closed and because the Ford plants it supplies have shut down their production lines.

The layoffs, which happened Tuesday, affected 172 permanent BWI employees at the plant at 989 Opportunity Parkway and 164 temporary workers from First Call and Morales Group staffing agencies.

“We hope to recall employees once our customers resume manufacturing operations,” said BWI Human Resources Manager Crystal Kottlowski in a notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The $80 million, 276,514-square-foot Greenfield plant—the first for BWI in the United States—opened last July and makes shock absorbers. The plant had projected it would employ about 440 people by the end of 2021.

BWI employees are not part of a union, and the company said it did not provide severance pay.

“Ford production lines are tentatively scheduled to restart operations on April 7,,” Kottlowski wrote. “Workers will be recalled as the production lines they work on are restarted.”

BWI said it will continue to pay employees’ insurance benefits during the shutdown and then recoup those premiums over time when employees return to work. The company said it notified employees that they can file for unemployment benefits.

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