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Whirlpool to Move U.S. Ice Maker Line to China
Jan 13, 2004
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Whirlpool is moving a production line for refrigerator ice makers from its plant in Fort Smith, AR, U.S. to China.

The Fort Smith ice maker line employs about 80 people, said Larry Ryan, president of the union chapter at the plant.

The company announced in November that some production at the Fort Smith plant would move to Mexico, but said it didn't yet know how many jobs would be affected.

The ice makers are installed in the freezers of Whirlpool refrigerators and also are sold to Whirlpool competitors. A firm will design and produce the units in China.

Whirlpool spokesman Christopher Wyse said the move was nothing more than "a normal course of business. I can't stress that enough."

Mr. Wyse said there will be no production change on the Fort Smith ice maker line for at least a year. He said the company was working with the outsource firm, TTi, to produce ice makers for the company's planned new refrigerator models.

He also said that he does not expect layoffs because workers on the ice maker line will fill other positions in the plant vacated through normal attrition.

However, Mr. Ryan said the move will reduce the hiring Whirlpool does in the community. The Fort Smith plant has about 4,500 employees, the largest manufacturing employer in the region. (Associated Press)

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