The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the economy; including two of Stoughton’s largest employers.
Stoughton Trailers and Cummins Inc. have responded to COVID-19 in different ways. Stoughton Trailers gave shop floor hourly employees a temporary pay increase, while Cummins cut salaried employees’ pay between 10-25% and reduce working hours. Chief executive Tom Linebarger’s salary will be cut in half.
The cuts at Cummins are in line with national trends, with U.S unemployment at a historic high. The US Department of Labor registered 7.14 million unemployed claims in March, obliterating the previous record set in October 1982 of 695,000 unemployed workers.
And it is only going to get worse.
“It is important to keep in mind that the March survey reference periods for both surveys predated many coronavirus-related business and school closures in the second half of the month,” the department of labor survey states.
Katie Zarich of Cummins Global said the cuts were made in U.S facilities, and international employees and all hourly employees are not impacted by the order.
“It is definitely a tough decision but one that is made in the best interest of the company. It helps to ensure the sustainability of the company long term,” she said.
The company employs 61,000 people globally, and has had to temporarily close one facility in Indiana as a result of the primary customer temporary closing, Zarich said.
Zarich said at this time there is so much uncertainty about the global supply chain she can not say how COVID-19 will affect other U.S facilities, including Stoughton.
Previously reported by the Hub, Cummins has supported various causes in the area since settling in Stoughton in 1998 with the purchase of long-time employer Nelson Muffler. In 2012, the Cummins Foundation donated a $100,000 matching grant to the Fab Lab, a digital fabrication workshop at Stoughton High School. Each year, the company provides employees with four-hours of paid volunteer time and in 2018 Stoughton employees volunteered more than 1,400 hours.
As Cummins had to reduce hours and pay for a portion of employees — Stoughton Trailers has seen an increase in their large fleet customers that transport essential items like toilet paper, medical supplies, household goods and groceries, Bob Wahlin wrote to the Hub in an email.
And although sectors of its business have declined — such as those that haul components that are assembled into automobiles — the company was able to give shop floor employees a temporary pay increase.
Stoughton Trailers did not provide information about employee increases, but said it is a gesture to show appreciation for their efforts.
“Our equipment is absolutely critical to supporting our nation; our trailers haul important medical, cleaning, safety, and life-saving supplies, as well as food, water and everyday stables. We hope that our employees realize the importance of their work, no more than ever- THANK YOU!” a statement posted on Stoughton Trailer’s Facebook page reads.
Historically Stoughton Trailers has also supported nonprofits in the area. In the past two years, the Wahlin Foundation has donated more than $400,000 to Stoughton organizations including $250,000 to the Innovation Center and $150,000 turf to the Stoughton High School.
The Hub contacted three other large Stoughton employers, Uniroyal, Zalk Josephs Fabricators and B&G Foods.
Uniroyal did not respond to request for comment. B&G Foods, part of the Ortega Plant, sent a statement that read in part, “We have also been working closely with our supply chain partners and our customers to ensure that we can continue to provide uninterrupted service. To date, our ability to serve our customers has not been materially impacted.”