Local News

Vestas may cut local workers' hours

PUEBLO, Colo. - Vestas workers in Pueblo could face the same cut in work hours as their counterparts in Northern Colorado, the company said Tuesday.

Workers in Windsor and Brighton will see their work hours reduced to 32 hours from 40 hours starting in January, the company announced Monday.

Part of the workers' lost wages will be covered by unemployment insurance under a work-share plan announced by the company and the state Department of Labor.

In Pueblo, Vestas is considering imposing similar cuts in work hours, company spokesman Andrew Longeteig said Tuesday.

Workers at a nacelle factory in Brighton also face reduced hours, he said.

Vestas and the state labor department remain in talks about the situation, he said. "The work-share plan gives flexibility to Vestas' factories and helps to retain our valuable and experienced employees," Longeteig said in a statement issued Tuesday.

"It also saves costs on recruiting or training new staff if market demand for wind turbines increases in 2013. "We will continue to scale our business up or down depending on business needs and market demands." In Windsor and Brighton, employees paid by the hour at blademanufacturing factories were told of the scaledback hours Monday, according to Bloomberg news service.

The company didn't disclose how many workers were affected. Vestas and other wind energy companies are in the midst of a sharp slowdown in U.S. due to falling orders and also the scheduled expiration of a federal wind energy tax break.

The wind energy companies also forecast a slowdown globally next year. Vestas predicts global shipments will total 5 gigawatts next year, down from about 6.3 gigawatts in 2012, Bloomberg reported.

The work-share plan was approved by the state Department of Labor and Employment and workers will receive payment for the lost hours from an unemployment insurance trust fund, Vestas said.

Denmark-based Vestas employs about 1,100 workers in the state, down from 1,700 earlier this year, based on recent jobs data from the company. The Pueblo plant employs an estimated 340, down from 450, according to the company's most recent public comments.

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