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Kentucky candle factory destroyed by tornado to lay off workers

By Adam Schrader
Kentucky candle factory destroyed by tornado to lay off workers
An aerial photo made with a drone shows the destruction of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory after tornadoes moved through the area leaving destruction and death across six states in December 2021. File Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The Kentucky candle factory that was destroyed by a tornado in December will potentially lay off hundreds of workers who can't be moved to a nearby plant.

Mayfield Consumer Products revealed in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed on Monday that the company plans "to accelerate the opening of its planned facility at Hickory Point" in Hickory, about 10 miles away, transferring about half of its 501 employees to the new plant.

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About 250 employees are expected to be laid off, with the rest being transferred to the Hickory facility, according to a list of affected positions provided with the notice. The layoffs are expected to be permanent.

Nine candle factory workers died after a series of tornados blew through the region on Dec. 10, with the deadly storms killing at least 89 people in Kentucky and surrounding states. There were more than 100 people working at the factory at the time of the disaster.

RELATED Kentucky officials to probe safety policies at candle factory where 8 died

The U.S. Department of Labor requires companies to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment, including those that are the direct result of a natural disaster.

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"There will not be room for the entire operation to move to Hickory Point. Therefore, not all employees will be able to transition to the plant," the notice reads. "Those employees not offered a transfer to the new facility will be laid off."

The company's website currently serves as a landing page, which includes a statement from CEO Troy Propes and the number for a hotline that has been established to provide information to employees.

RELATED Kentucky governor: Tornado death toll likely to 'exceed more than 100'

"Our Mayfield, Kentucky facility was destroyed December 10, 2021, by a tornado, and tragically employees were killed and injured," the message from Propes reads.

"We're heartbroken about this, and our immediate efforts are to assist those affected by this terrible disaster. Our company is family-owned and our employees, some who have worked with us for many years, are cherished."

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