RJ Reynolds Taking Employee Pulse With Severance Option


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- With the consolidation of its cigarette production operations well under way, RJ Reynolds is surveying its manufacturing employees to see how many, if any, would be interested in a job elimination with severance.

The 1,400 employees receiving surveys have until the end of the month to respond, according to spokesman David Howard. On the table is a severance offer of two weeks for every year of employment, with a minimum of 13 weeks and a maximum of 78 weeks, he said.

"We think there may be a significant number of employees who may be interested in leaving if given the opportunity to do so with severance," Howard told CSNews Online. "More than half of the employees have 30 years or more of service with the company."

He added that if past experience is any indication, RJ Reynolds will be able to adjust employment levels with the volunteer job elimination. However, he stressed that the company does not have a hard number of jobs it wants to eliminate, or must eliminate.

The move to reduce its workforce comes as RJ Reynolds is close to moving its Whitaker Park cigarette production to its Tobaccoville facility. The process began last summer and should be completed by midyear. "Consolidating our cigarette production into one facility will enable us to operate with less employees," Howard said. "But we do not know what number of jobs will be eliminated and do not have a number that we must eliminate."

After receiving the employees’ responses at the end of the month, RJ Reynolds officials will evaluate the interest and how that interest falls into the company’s business needs moving forward. The company expects the evaluation to be complete by mid-March, Howard explained.

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