Takata lays off employees

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald The entrance to Takata’s Moses Lake facility.

MOSES LAKE — The community is buzzing with rumors following reports that Takata has laid off a number of employees at its Randolph Road plant. Estimates are ranging between 60 and 65 employees. About 350 people work at the facility.

Reports of the layoffs were confirmed in a Facebook posting by SkillSource, which is hosting two special informational sessions for laid off Takata workers today.

“Have you been impacted by the recent layoffs at the Moses Lake Takata facility? Please attend a Rapid Response informational event this Thursday, January 4 at either 10:00 or 2:00 in the WorkSource Center, 309 E 5th Avenue, Moses Lake. Multiple partners will be on site to answer questions about Unemployment, Retraining, College Scholarships, Job Search Assistance and much more,” the SkillSource posting said.

According to one former Takata employee who spoke on condition of anonymity, a group of approximately 60 Takata workers were told Tuesday they were being laid off immediately.

The company has not announced the layoffs publicly. Takata’s Moses Lake office has not returned requests for comment about the layoffs, and no one at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters was answering the phone.

In 2013, Tokyo-based Takata announced that a number of the devices it created to inflate automobile airbags could malfunction, injuring or killing drivers and passengers.

“Approximately 34 million vehicles are currently under recall for approximately 46 million defective Takata air bags that can explode when the air bag deploys, causing serious injury or even death,” says the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Takata airbag recall website.

“Additional air bags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected air bags to around 65-70 million,” the NHTSA said. “Takata supplied these defective air bags to many vehicle manufacturers for years, creating one of the largest and most complex recalls in U.S. history.”

The recall affects more than 30 different makes and dozens of models produced in the U.S., Japan and Europe. The company filed for bankruptcy in Japan and the United States in June, 2017, as costs related to the recall escalated.

According to a December report from the Associated Press, Honda reported the 20th death from a person hit by an exploding Takata air bag inflater. The death occurred July 10 in Baton Rouge, La.

Honda was Takata’s largest customer and urged consumers via door-to-door visits and on Facebook to get their cars repaired, according to the AP.

In addition to the Moses Lake facility, Takata has U.S. plants in San Antonio, Texas; Armada and Pontiac, Mich.; affiliated facilities in Cheraw, S.C., and Kernersville, N.C.; and a sales office in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com. Managing Editor Lynne Lynch contributed to this report and can be reached at editor@columbiabasinherald.com.

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