Mississippi-based furniture company lays off 2,700 workers

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TUPELO, Mississippi (AP) -- A Mississippi-based company that had grown into one of the largest furniture companies in the country has laid off nearly its entire workforce.
About 2,700 workers, most of whom live in northeast Mississippi, lost their jobs Monday, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
Just days before the Thanksgiving holiday, United Furniture Industries emailed and texted a memo to workers late Monday night, informing them not to report for their shifts on Tuesday.
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In a second email, workers were informed that their "dismissal from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will cease immediately without the provision of COBRA," referring to federal law that allows people who lose their jobs to the opportunity to maintain their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage under certain circumstances.
Some employees were sound asleep when the emails reached their inboxes. Others never saw the emails before going to work. Company drivers who were out were instructed to return immediately to a United Furniture location to drop off their trucks.
The memo said the layoffs were at the direction of the company's board of directors and were due to "unforeseen business circumstances." The memo did not provide specific details about what led to the layoffs.
The company's communications team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Based in Okolona, ​​Miss., United Furniture Industries manufactures furniture under its brand and the Lane Home Furnishings brand, which it acquired from Heritage Home Group LLC in 2017 for an undisclosed sum. Lane was founded in Virginia in 1912 and merged with Tupelo-based Action Industries in 1972.
Furniture Today, a trade publication, reported that United fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vice president of sales in June. It then appointed Todd Evans, former president of Standard Furniture, an Alabama-based company, as its new CEO.
In addition to eight plants in Mississippi, United also had six plants in North Carolina and one in California. There were also layoffs at the North Carolina and California sites.

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