SEH America lays off 172

Sept. 23, 2002 – Vancouver, WA – SEH America has laid off 172 Vancouver employees, or 15% of the work force, signaling that the semiconductor industry has a long way to go before recovery.

The unit of Tokyo-based Shin-Etsu Handotai in June had canceled plans to lay off a similar number of workers, providing slim hope for the sector, reported the Knight Ridder Tribune.

The layoff of 172 employees drops SEH America’s work force to more than 930 in Vancouver. A year ago, the plant had 1,397 workers; four years ago it had close to 1,900.

At the beginning of this year, the company notified 235 employees that they would lose their jobs by July, resulting in the first 40 job losses in February.

But in May, SEH altered the decision and began offering severance packages, said Julie Branford, SEH’s director of HR. About 80 took the offer.

In June, it decided not to move manufacturing of 6-inch wafers to Malaysia, saving about 200 jobs in Vancouver. And the company began to see unanticipated high demand.

“Back in April, May, and June, we saw lots of orders,” Branford said. “We really couldn’t understand the basis for them, because the economy wasn’t strong. Then the orders started falling off in August, and they’ve continued to fall off.”

Branford said she hopes SEH’s business has bottomed out, but “just like the stock market, it’s so unpredictable.”


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