Electrolux employees say Memphis plant cutting hours, sparking fears

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Could a major manufacturer in Memphis be closing, taking more than 1,000 jobs with it?

Management at the Electrolux appliances plant in southwest Memphis says no, but employees say yes.

Someone emailed WREG about rumors the factory is closing, so we went to the plant to check it out. Several people came to tell us about all the changes happening inside.

Electrolux opened in Memphis to excitement and optimism back in 2014. Gov. Bill Haslam attended the grand opening.

"This is a big deal for us, especially because of the range of employment, from entry-level jobs to high-tech jobs,” Haslam said then.

At the time, the appliance manufacturer got tax incentives to build its factory in southwest Memphis. According to records submitted to Shelby County’s Economic Development Growth Engine, Electrolux employed around 1,200 people, both full-time and contract employees, by the end of 2017.

But this year, something changed.

"Last year this time, we were working every day except Sunday. All the work we could stand," Oscar Robinson said. "Now everything is shallow. I think they're down to four lines of production lines.

Robinson has worked here for around a year. He says he likes it and has good benefits, but his hours are going down.

We met him as he was leaving work around 1. He says they asked for volunteers to leave early.

"Because of the shutdown of Sears, which was a big contract with Electrolux, they started downsizing this plant because of that," he said. "I just think they're closing this plant because they're losing this contract with Sears. That’s what I think."

Electrolux officials deny that, saying there are no plans to close the Memphis plant.

But they did send us a statement saying, “We are closely watching Sears, proactively growing our business with other retailers and continuing to balance our operations to meet market demand.”

All of that points to one direction for Robinson. He says he already has one foot out the door.

"I’ve never been on the Titanic but I know a sinking ship when I see one.”

Another man we spoke with on his way out of work said he just found out his wages are going down from $17 to $12 an hour, and he says he’s not even working 40 hours a week anymore.