COLTON, Calif - Congressional representatives believe a significant portion of production at the soon-to-close Colton, CA facility is being outsourced to Vietnam- contributing to Ashley's decision to close the plant, and laying off 840 workers. That has allowed the employees to get federal help.

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Ashley Furniture announced it will close its manufacturing plants in Colton, California, and shift production to other plants in the U.S. 

Soon after the layoffs were announced last month, the California Employment Development Department petitioned for federal help through a program called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which offers employment services such as counseling, training, and unemployment benefits for workers affected by foreign competition. Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) then sent a letter to the Department of Labor expressing his support of the petition.

In his letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Aguilar alleges that a significant portion of production from the Colton plant is being outsourced to Vietnam. The letter also says that a large percentage of Ashley's production relies on foreign imports, most notably China and Vietnam. Previous TAA certification for other previously displaced Ashley employees indicates the company increased imports of furniture, which lead to those employees being let go.

Ashley Furniture has 558 worldwide locations, with 13 manufacturing plants, and 11 distribution centers.

“Previous TAA certification for other laid-off Ashley workers in other parts of the country found that the company increased its imports of furniture and that contributed to the separation of workers,” Aguilar wrote to the Department of Labor. “The evidence appears to point to a similar situation in the case of the Colton Ashley Furniture location — that these workers were adversely affected by foreign trade.”

Ashley admitted that some production will go to Vietnam, but asserted that the main reasons for the closing of the plant were to increase efficiency and capacity at other existing plants.

On August 26, the Wisconsin-based furniture giant’s 840 Colton employees received 60-days-notice of their impending layoffs. The Colton plant will shut down October 25.