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American LaFrance Shuts SC Plant



Last year, FITS investigated reports that Lowcountry emergency vehicle manufacturer American LaFrance was planning on closing its Moncks Corner, S.C. plant.

At the time, company executives – and officials at the S.C. Department of Commerce – were adamant that these reports were false.

Well guess what … earlier this month American LaFrance abruptly shut down this facility, costing 150 South Carolinians their jobs. Two other facilities also shuttered (one in Pennsylvania, the other in Los Angeles) as the company closed its doors for good.

“Unfortunately, the company’s unexpected current financial condition requires the discontinuation of operations in these locations at this time, and these facilities are not expected to reopen,” a statement from American LaFrance read.

Last week two former employees at the company filed a lawsuit, alleging they did not receive sufficient notification under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) – which requires firms employing more than 100 people to provide sixty days notification of termination.

“These employees have been left out in the cold,” their attorney told The Berkeley Independent. “Not only did they lose wages and benefits, they lost the time they needed to search for new employment.”

Ah yes … “it’s a great day in South Carolina.”

American LaFrance received an undisclosed amount of taxpayer-funded incentives in 2002 when it announced its plans to move to South Carolina.

“Today, we begin a new chapter in the rich history of American LaFrance,” the company’s president said at the time, promising the creation of 800 new jobs in South Carolina.

Former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges welcomed the company by “happily clanging away” at a fire bell, which one of the company’s executives said was “a warning … to our competitors.”

Yeah … for whom is that bell tolling now?

While the total tab to South Carolina taxpayers remains unknown, American LaFrance leaves Berkeley County owing local taxpayers more than $650,000 – part of a fee in lieu of tax deal it struck with local “economic developers.”

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