Cummins Natural Gas Engines cuts workforce

CNJ Photo: Tony Bullocks Cummins Natural Gas Engine has a 40-year history with Clovis. The company laid off 16 employees last week because of economic hardship.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis’ Cummins Natural Gas Engine laid off approximately 30 percent of its workforce last week.

Sixteen employees — a dozen hourly workers assigned to the shop floor and four office workers —were let go, according to a company spokesman. The reduction brings the plant’s workforce to 39 employees.

Cummins Director of Public Relations Mark Land said the layoff is one of many efforts by the company to try and curtail economic hardship.

“Like a lot of companies we’ve been hit hard by the recession,” Land said Monday. “We’re working very hard at all our locations to make sure our costs are in line with demand for the product.”

Similar layoffs have taken place at other Cummins plants across the country, he said.

Cummins is hopeful it will not need to cut back any further, Land said.

A global corporation, Cummins has almost 40 years of history in Clovis and has owned the plant on south Norris Street for 22 years, Land said.

Land said prior to the recession there was a lot of growth.

“Before the recession really started hitting us, we had been on a significant growth trajectory. Our efforts right now are staying as strong as we can to go back to our growth mode,” he said.

New Mexico’s jobless rate rose to 5.1 percent in January, up 3.1 percent in January 2008, but was still below the national rate of 7.6 percent.

Cummins is the second area company to cite the soured economy as a reason for layoffs.

In October, Abengoa Bioenergy in Portales, an employer of about 40, laid off an undisclosed number of employees and said it was shutting down temporarily due to market conditions.

Did you know? Only businesses with 100 or more full-time workers that lay off at least 50 people at a single site are required to warn employees 60 days ahead of the terminations, according to a Labor Department Web site.

Unemployment changes: New Mexico labor officials said last week the federal stimulus package increased the amount eligible unemployment benefit claimants get by $25 per week.

The state Department of Workforce Solutions says the additional money will be included in their weekly payments starting this week.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report