RED BAY | After being told by management in November that this day was likely coming, dozens of area Tiffin Motorhomes employees received the news last week they did not want to get, especially at this time of year.
Tiffin Motorhomes laid off a “significant number” of employees at each of its plant facilities last week. Though the exact number of people affected was not available at press time, sources tell the news the layoffs equaled roughly 25 percent of Tiffin Motorhomes’ workforce, and the layoff affected each of the plant’s manufacturing facilities, as well as the service center in Red Bay. Tiffin Motorhomes operates factories in Red Bay, Vina, and Winfield in Alabama and Belmont and Burnsville in Mississippi.
At the Vina plant, sources tell The News at least 10 jobs were eliminated, leaving 29 workers there.
Neither the Alabama Department of Commerce nor the Mississippi Department of Employment Security websites have been updated yet with figures showing the number affected, though the MDES site does show Tiffin Motorhomes filed two layoff notices in September. Those included 25 people laid off from Tiffin Motorhomes in Belmont on September 2, and 43 people laid off from VanLeigh RV in Burnsville on September 22. Both layoffs were classified as non-WARN Act qualifying notices due to decreases in sales.
The WARN Act is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires companies with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.
The News reached out to both Tiffin Motorhomes and to the Alabama Department of Commerce but had not received responses by press time.
Former employees told The News that company president Leigh Tiffin had spoken with workers several weeks ago about the probability of layoffs coming, so the move was not unexpected. Last week, employees began being notified their jobs had been eliminated.
A letter dated November 30 and given to a former employee of the Belmont plant states in part: “Current economic conditions are negatively impacting the entire RV industry. Consequently, Tiffin Motorhomes’ sales and product demand have declined significantly in recent weeks. Unfortunately, we have concluded that we must eliminate a significant number of positions within our company to endure this challenging economic environment.”
Leaders across the Red Bay, Franklin County and Belmont and Tishomingo County areas have been working in the leadup to and aftermath of the layoffs to help those affected.
Mayor Charlene Fancher announced Monday the City of Red Bay, working with Sherry Price of the Franklin County Development Authority and Rep. Jamie Kiel, is organizing a job fair planned for Monday, Dec. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Red Bay Rec Center. Fancher said the job fair is being organized to help those who lost their jobs, but it is open to anyone looking for work.
“We are directly contacting companies we are confident are hiring or needing workers,” Fancher said. “In Red Bay, Sunshine Mills and Sunshine Homes have both committed to the job fair, and we have reached out to Gates Rubber Company. We’ve also reached out to Constellium (in the Shoals).” Additionally, Fancher has been also working to reach out to officials at Cooper Tire in Tupelo. While she would like to see people be able to go back to work locally, Fancher said what is most important is that people are able to get back to work quickly.
“This is a very difficult situation, first and foremost for the employees, and I understand the situation on the company with the economy,” Fancher said. “The City of Red Bay is doing its part to help individuals find work. We understand this is a devastating event in their life and we’re working to help any way possible to help those who have been displaced find a new job – preferably in Red Bay, but to find a job is most important regardless of location. That’s from the heart. This is devastating to be without a paycheck, especially this time of year.”
Fancher said those attending the job fair just need to bring a resume and a desire to work.
Silver linings in Belmont
Helping to soften the impact on employees affected in Belmont, officials there helped organize a job fair last week that saw several area and regional employers respond with job opportunities.
Belmont City Alderman Brandon Pharr said he was out of town on business when Tiffin Motorhomes’ human resources department reached out to him on November 29 about finding a place in Belmont for Mississippi Department of Employment Security officials to hold a job fair. Pharr was able to quickly arrange Belmont City Hall as the host site, and then started working to get the word out.
“I quickly started making social media posts and leveraging the Tishomingo County Development Foundation to communicate with local employers,” Pharr said. “My heart was shattered thinking about the families that would be affected, and I wanted to utilize my platform to work in unison with MDES to offer a job fair to help the affected employees that got laid off.”
Pharr said around 100 job seekers attended the event.
“It was a very touching and humbling event,” Pharr said. “We saw many faces of uncertainty coming in the door, but also many faces of hope leaving. The employers were not only there to fill roles, but many offered encouragement, hope, and compassion. They also introduced affected employees to other employers looking for someone with their skill set. They held children so people could fill out applications. They were there to fill roles, but more importantly offer hope on a dark day.”
Pharr said the event would not have been possible had it not been for area leaders working so quickly to pull it together. He said he and others appreciated the work of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation as well as the employers who attended.
“I would also like to thank Senator Daniel Sparks,” Pharr said. “He has been crucial in working through challenges with MDES since 2020 and wanted to make sure everyone affected had the support they needed.”
Pharr said it was situations like this that he was glad he was in a position to be light to those walking a dark and difficult path.
“We all have platforms in our lives, but how we utilize them makes a difference,” Pharr said. “God blessed me with a servant heart and the gift of administration, so I choose to utilize it for people to see the love of Christ. I love to tell others that I am not a politician, but a community servant.”
Additionally, Pharr said he was pleased to learn the job fair had been productive.
“I have been in contact with several employers that interviewed applicants from the job fair on Friday and have made job offers,” Pharr said. “My hope is that many more get opportunities from the job fair, but just as important I hope they felt hope and love from their community.”
Download the jobs page:
CLICK HERE to download a list of companies and resources compiled by Pharr.