Odessa-based Saulsbury Industries is furloughing or laying off 58 employees at its fabrication facility in Henderson, citing a downtown in the oil and gas industry — a spiral triggered by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Saulsbury sent a notice dated May 7 to the Texas Workforce Commission saying employment loss at its plant at 2800 County Road 205 N. would be a "combination of temporary and permanent separation." It said the cutbacks began May 7 and will continue through May 21.
Saulsbury spokeswoman Kayley Howard said in a statement Thursday that the majority of the job losses are expected to be temporary layoffs lasting less than six months.
"The actions are the result of unforeseeable business circumstances caused by the pandemic and a significant number of canceled or delayed projects in our oil and gas business line," Howard said. "The actions were not planned and the impact was not immediately identifiable."
Saulsbury issued the notice to comply with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which kick-starts services that include helping laid-off employees apply for unemployment benefits.
Saulsbury provides "engineering, procurement, construction services to heavy industrial clients across a wide range of industries: gas processing and treatment, refining, petroleum/petrochemicals, manufacturing and terminals/logistics," according to its website.
A number of Saulsbury's employees work in the oilfields, said John Clary, executive director of the Henderson Economic Development Corp.
"We are not crying that the sky is falling, but it is obvious that the oilfield is taking a big hit," Clary said. "This is just very unfortunate."
Salisbury also notified the TWC that is plans to lay off 15 more employees at two Ector County facilities.
The job losses at Saulsbury amount to the fourth major set of layoffs in Northeast Texas in a month tied to the energy industry slump that in turn was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Steel notified the commission May 1 that it was idling 55 employees at its Wheeling Machine Products plant in Hughes Springs.
U.S. Steel’s Lone Star Tubular Operations in Lone Star also began laying off hourly workers earlier this month starting with 24 employees, but the company said it expected all or most of the steel mill to be idled by the end of the month.
The plant has about 500 hourly workers, according to Trey Green, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 4134 in Lone Star.
Oilfield services company Halliburton notified the workforce commission April 14 that it would lay off 233 employees at its Kilgore plant. The company also plans to close the facility and move operations to Bossier City.
And fracking company FTS International Services has furloughed 59 employees from its facility at 1704 E. Whaley St. in Longview.