1:44pm

Fri January 4, 2013
Business

Vestas Cuts Hours At Another Colorado Plant

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas is cutting the workweek to 24 hours for its Pueblo factory workers due to an industry slowdown caused by the delay in extending the Wind Tax Credit.

Congress extended the tax credit as part of a larger deal to avert the so called Fiscal Cliff. Spokesman Andrew Longeteig says despite the extension, there have been hourly reductions to avoid layoffs at three of the four plants Vestas operates in Colorado including blade factories in Brighton and Windsor.

“Because of the U.S. wind industry slowdown and a significant reduction in wind turbine orders for 2013. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has approved a work share program for Vestas’ power factory in Pueblo…they’ll move to 24 hour work weeks in early January.”

The state’s WorkShare program pays for employees lost wages from an unemployment insurance trust fund. Blade factories in Brighton and Windsor had already reduced their hourly employees down to 34 hours a week and Vestas says employee benefits provided by the company won’t change. The reduction in hours followed layoffs in Vestas’ Colorado workforce, which decreased from 1,800 workers to 1,100 last year.

Windsor Now reports some Vestas employees fear they could lose their guaranteed 26 weeks of Colorado unemployment in the event of future layoffs.

WorkShare only pays a percentage of normal hourly wages, equating to about 80 percent of what workers would have earned.

The amount employees receive in benefits through WorkShare does count against that 26-week eligibility, said Cher Haavind, spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Employment. Based on one day a week of benefits, they’d lose about three weeks of unemployment benefits under the program, should Vestas lay them off later.

The department insists that companies present a plan to bring employees back on full time, Haavind said.

The extended Wind Tax Credit raised hopes that some laid off workers could get their jobs back. However, many customers accelerated projects in 2012 to qualify for the credit, so this year could be a slow one for manufacturers.