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Post-holiday layoffs affect Kansas City area workers, including Hallmark and Russell Stover

Posted at 8:00 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 22:51:23-05

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Days into the new year, three businesses with ties to the Kansas City area have announced layoffs.

Hallmark announced that globally 400 employees will no longer be employed, while Russell Stover’s parent company announced 300 layoffs. Workers at Premier Surfaces in Riverside also have been laid off.

Economic analyst Chris Kuehl said layoffs in January are expected.

"I think the story of the first quarter is going to be layoffs, caution, retrenching, worrying about what the rest of the year is going to look like," Kuehl said.

For companies, it's a business decision. But for laid-off workers the impact is personal.

Dan Fasching is one of the 200 workers at Premier Surfaces who was laid off. He said workers were neither given notice nor severance pay. They also did not receive health benefits, according to Fasching.

"None of us seen this coming," Fashing said. "We're not going to take this lying down. Whether it's legal action or whether they see the light, that isn't right. We're going to get taken care of one way or the other.”

Laid-off workers at Hallmark and Russell Stover will receive severance pay and benefits.

Hallmark representatives said the company is streamlining to invest in new growth strategies, and in Kansas City 325 workers will be laid off. Lindt & Sprungeli (parent company of Russell Stover) said fewer than 10 of its employees will be laid-off in Kansas City.

Kuehl said that some retailers, small businesses, major companies, manufacturing plants and restaurants will have workforce reductions.

"You've seen a lot of companies started the year announcing that they were going to make some investments and they were going to expand,” Kuehl said. “They've all gone in the other direction.”

The companies, according to Kuehl, are, in-part, making decisions because they are worried about oil prices and concerned about tensions between the U.S., Iran and Iraq. Kuehl said retailers are slowing-down because holiday sales were mixed.

"[Retailers] had very good traffic and lousy profits,” Kuehl said. “People were coming in and buying the stuff that was on sale and bolting for the door.”

Because there's a labor shortage in manufacturing, construction, transportation and in the service sectors, Kuehl said laid-off workers are expected to find another job within two weeks of being laid off.