Layoffs hit union workers in Holmen

Dozens of union workers at Northern Engraving in Holmen are losing their jobs.

The company announced earlier this month that it was laying off 61 employees and expected the layoffs to be permanent. Employees losing their jobs include screen and punch press operators, die setters and screen operators. Many are represented by the Plastic Workers’ Union.

Northern Engraving makes metal trim for vehicle interiors, nameplates and appliance panels. The company also has facilities in Sparta and West Salem and is part of NBHX Trim Group, a global company that’s listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in China.

Northern Engraving notified the state of the 61 layoffs in a letter dated Aug. 3. The company received a forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of between $5 million and $10 million in April to retain 500 jobs. The PPP program was part of a federal relief package approved by Congress to keep companies afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, although critics say it was insufficient when compared to the scale of the economic crisis.

Another small manufacturing company – Stellar Mold and Tool in Galesville – told the state on Aug. 3 it was closing down with a loss of 22 hourly positions. The company received a forgivable PPP loan of between $150,000 and $300,000 in April.

The job losses at both companies show the continuing effects of the pandemic on the local economy and come at a time when federal support is diminishing.

Workers who lose their jobs this month will not receive the extra $600 in jobless benefits that ran out at the end of July. President Trump has signed an executive order for the federal government to continue boosting jobless benefits, after Congress failed to reach an agreement on a new relief package. But the president’s order will only add $300 a week to unemployment checks, or half as much as the previous enhanced benefit, which helped millions of unemployed Americans who lost work in recent months stay out of poverty.

By Eric Timmons. Email questions to lacrosseindependent@gmail.com. Top photo: President Trump Meets With Congressional leadership/Public Domain.

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