Ford Fires 100 Factory Workers By Robocall On Halloween

To some Ford employees in Chicago, it seemed like a Halloween prank. But when they showed up on Saturday for work, they learned that is was a very real trick: Ford had fired them through a robocall, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.

The workers received a message on Friday that they were no longer needed and were now out of a job. The Times reported that dozens of workers either missed the call or thought it was a prank, and so showed up to work anyway only to learn that their ID badges no longer functioned and to hear from security that they were out of a job.

A request for comment from Ford was not answered in time for publication and the national office of the United Auto Workers union appeared to be closed for the day, according to a recording.

Update 11/4/2014 2:20pm: Here is the complete statement that Ford sent: "As part of our business process, we have temporarily adjusted our workforce numbers at Chicago Assembly Plant by approximately 90 team members. Our goal, as always, is to return the workers back to their positions as soon as possible based on the needs of our business." On a follow-up question, Ford told AOL Jobs, "We do not typically use Robo call to notify employees of layoffs. The plant elected to use Robo call in this situation because it is temporary in nature and we intend to recall all employees as soon as possible."

Although employers sometimes fire people via email or text so as to avoid an emotional confrontation, the approach is considered a poor practice. The Society for Human Resource Management says delivering such news via email or text is "impersonal" and makes employees feel "disrespected" and could "provoke the terminated employee into some negative emotional reaction."

Firing by robocall could be even worse given the obvious level of automation. Particularly around Election Day, people are already inclined to be irritated with the practice, given the number of campaigns that rely on the tactic.

The layoffs occurred at a 2.8 million-square-foot plant on the Calumet River on Torrence Avenue in Chicago, a major employer in the area. Although there was a layoff at the plant in 2008, sales have picked up and the facility added second and third shifts to keep up with production of such cars as the Explorer, Taurus, police interceptor versions of both vehicles, and the Lincoln MKS.

However, Ford car and light truck sales declined by 2.7 percent year over year, rather than the 2.4 percent that analysts had expected, according to Bloomberg. That compared to 19 percent increases in U.S. sales for GM, Chrysler, and Nissan. Ford did have record sales of the Fusion sedan and Explorer--but as The Times noted, Taurus and Lincoln MKS sales were sharply down.
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