Mass firing blindsides former UFI employees, truck drivers

Former employees of United Furniture Industries, operating under the Lane Furniture brand name, say they were blindsided overnight after receiving either an email or text message instructing them not to report to work Tuesday because their jobs were being immediately terminated “due to unforeseen business circumstances.”

“At the instruction of the board of directors of United Furniture Industries Inc. and all subsidiaries, we regret to inform you that due to unforeseen business circumstances, the company has been forced to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all its employees, effective immediately, on Nov. 21, 2022,” according to the statement to employees obtained by FreightWaves.

Some employees questioned the timing of UFI’s mass firing, which comes two days before Thanksgiving.

However, over-the-road truck drivers for furniture delivery division UFI Transportation who are currently making deliveries “will be paid for the balance of the week,”  the company stated in the letter to workers.

UFI and Lane drivers are directed to “immediately return equipment, inventory and delivery documents” to its terminal locations in North Carolina, Mississippi or California. Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

According to the UFI statement, it directs truckers with loads to “immediately return equipment, inventory and delivery documents for those deliveries that have been completed to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Verona, Mississippi; or Victorville, California.”

It’s unclear how many employees were affected by the privately held company’s decision to fire its remaining workforce.

According to the Federal Motor Safety Administration’s SAFER website, UFI has 40 power units and 42 drivers. 

Top exec remains silent on closure

Todd Evans, CEO of UFI, did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment about what precipitated the mass firing.

In late July, the furniture manufacturer closed its plants in Winston-Salem and High Point, North Carolina, resulting in more than 270 workers losing their jobs, according to WARN Act notices filed at the time with the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Another 220 jobs were eliminated in late July at the company’s plant in Amory, Mississippi. 

One former employee, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the company immediately canceled workers’ health insurance and COBRA coverage.

“Luckily, I am in a position where I will survive,” the former employee posted on social media. “But shame on you Lane Furniture-United Furniture for making sure employees will struggle this winter.” 

James “Rooster” Bowen contributed to this report.

This is a developing story.

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