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Defining “Furlough” at Vestas

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The headlines were clear: “Vestas Wind Systems to receive incentive money amid worker furloughs,” wrote The Denver Post. But now 9News, which ran a similar story, writes that furlough “apparently” means different things to different people. Both 9News and the Fort Collins Coloradoan quoted Danish spokesman Peter Kruse as saying Vestas workers will be furloughed (the Post quoted a spokesman for the state’s Office of Economic Development using the “f” word).

But on Wednesday, Vestas clarified its position, citing a misunderstanding over what’s going on at its facility in Windsor. The company isn’t furloughing workers; instead, it’s halting production temporarily because of a slowdown in business attributed to tight credit markets, low natural-gas prices, and diminished electricity demand.

All of the 500 employees there will remain on the job, where they’ll be training and retooling—that sort of thing. Importantly, they will continue to be paid, according to 9News.

Still, Kruse tells The Greeley Tribune, “I cannot rule out that some [employees] every now and then will have an extended weekend.”

The Windsor blade plant will ramp up operations slowly next year and be at full production by 2011. That is, if reporters, Kruse, and market conditions are all in agreement. One report that doesn’t seem to be stirring a need for clarification came earlier this week from The Pueblo Chieftain, which pointed out the Vestas’ timeline for its tower plant in that town are “unchanged.”

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