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Les Schwab Tires to furlough workers

No firm numbers yet, but includes Bend HQ, Prineville warehouse employees

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A temporary furlough of Les Schwab Tire Centers employees begins Monday, but all stores will remain open, NewsChannel 21 confirmed Thursday.

A marketing representative for the Bend-based company said officials began notifying employees of their plans on Thursday and will finish Friday morning. The stores remain classified as an essential business and will be open, officials said.

Les Schwab employs about 7,000 people company-wide. Officials could not confirm how many this will affect, as they work out the final details.

Here's a company statement, dated last Saturday:

"Les Schwab Tire Centers has been in business for nearly 70 years, and these are truly unprecedented times. Like so many other companies, we’ve grappled with how best to manage our business in these extreme conditions.

"The health, safety and well-being of our employees and customers remains our top priority, and we’ve put in place many new practices to protect them as we continue providing the essential services our customers need at this time.

"During normal circumstances, we adjust our store staff based on significant shifts in seasonal demands, and have programs in place to support our employees. Unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances.

"In response to the realities we’re facing because of COVID-19, we’re also temporarily furloughing some of our headquarters and Prineville staff. 

"We sincerely hope these conditions subside so we can bring back affected staff as soon as possible."

An email sent to workers Thursday indicate furloughed workers will remain an employee and stay on active benefits for up to 90 days.

It says the company will pay workers' medical plan premiums during the furlough, and they won't be required to pay them back when they return, except for voluntary, enhanced benefits.

Workers are being encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits immediately. But those who are eligible for company benefits also will be eligible for a "wage bridge," providing up to five more days of pay, to "give you additional support before unemployment benefits start."

Les Schwab indicated late last year it had put itself up for sale in a deal analysts said at the time could fetch up to $3 billion. The process was "expected to take several months," the company said at the time.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.


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