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Invacare laying off nearly 40% of hourly workers at wheelchair plant

Invacare Corp. said it's laying off nearly 40% of the hourly employees at its Taylor Street wheelchair manufacturing plant in Elyria, Ohio, due to an expected decline in production that mainly will result from the consent decree the company entered into last week with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Invacare is laying off 143 of the plant's 365 hourly workers. The maker of wheelchairs and other home health care equipment said the remaining 222 employees “will remain in their current roles or be reassigned to other roles across the Elyria campus.”

Invacare said it will offer 60 days continuance of pay and benefits to the laid-off workers.

As a result of the move, Invacare expects to incur one-time restructuring charges that won't exceed $1.25 million on a pre-tax basis.“While we regret having to take this step, we recognize the need to align our work force with our production volume,” Invacare president and CEO Gerry Blouch said in a statement.

The consent decree relates to what Invacare has described as “inspectional observations” by the FDA at its corporate headquarters and its Taylor Street plant, both in Elyria. Invacare said last week the decree limits the production of custom power and manual wheelchairs, wheelchair components and wheelchair subassemblies at the plant. It also limits design activities related to wheelchairs and power beds at the Elyria operations.

In a statement, Mr. Blouch said the company remains “committed to achieving full regulatory compliance and to resuming full operations at Taylor Street as quickly as possible.”

“Over the past year, we have made significant investments of time, people and resources to achieve regulatory compliance and make Invacare's Taylor Street manufacturing facility an even stronger operation,'' Mr. Blouch said.

After the job cuts, Invacare said it will continue to employ about 1,050 workers in Northeast Ohio and 6,050 workers worldwide.
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