EFFINGHAM (WCIA) — Employees at Flex-N-Gate in Effingham were left stunned after the plant laid off all of its employees for the foreseeable future earlier this week.

The company announced it is shutting its doors in Effingham because of the United Auto Workers strike in Kentucky. Nearly 9,000 employees left their jobs at Ford’s Kentucky truck plant in Louisville Wednesday night. The news came nearly four weeks after the union began walkouts against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis on Sept. 15.

The Effingham plant is fairly new and opened in 2021. About 400 workers are employed at that site.

A statement from their corporate office said:

Understandably and regrettably, layoffs of hourly workers have resulted due to the UAW strike. We all hope for a timely resolution.

Jim Woodcock, Flex-N-Gate Spokesperson

We talked to two employees at the Effingham location who wished to remain anonymous. They are now faced with the reality that their jobs are gone. One said their hours were previously cut from 40 to 24 almost a month before the layoffs.

“It was a day-by-day thing where not even management knew whether or not we would be working a full week even up to Wednesday of that particular week,” she said.

She said she and other employees were told they’d be returning to a 32-hour week schedule soon. Then, the news broke. 

“We got the phone call last night that we were all laid off until further notice,” she said.

Another employee who started in August of 2022 said he loved working at the plant and the news was devastating.

“You can move around if you want to, to other positions. And if you have any complaints or anything, you can go talk to your supervisor, team lead or anybody,” he said. “This was my only sort of income I was making. So, I’m going to have to apply for unemployment and be able to pay rent and any other bills that I have.”

Both employees said there are no hard feelings toward the company despite the sudden change. But they said for some of their colleagues, there are no other options outside of Flex-N-Gate.

“Some of us have health issues or other factories won’t work with our schedules if we have children,” she said. “So, this is the end all be all for us and we want to stick it out as long as we can.”

Effingham city officials said they’re working with other government entities to provide support for employees that are laid off. Flex-N-Gate said they have no timetable for when these layoffs will end.