With 2020 U.S. Presidential Election just a few months away, the campaigns are getting uglier in Michigan. In a recent event, UFP Industries objected to campaign mailers sent by the super political action committee Fix Congress Now! to the voters of Grand Rapids.
The mailers accuse that UFP Industries had laid off thousands of Michigan employees and that its former employee and 2020 Republican candidate Lynn Afendoulis was offered a six-figure salary annually with over $1 million in stock options while employees were being laid off.
UFP Industries refuted the claims that it had ever laid off thousands of Michigan employees, saying the company has never employed more than 500 people in Michigan.
However, the mailers refer to a 2011 Woodworking Network article based on a UFP Industries press release. The press release cites a statement made by then-CEO Michael Glenn discussing layoffs of thousands of employees.
Responding to which UFP Industries accepted that there were thousands of layoffs amid the financial crisis of 2007-2011. As UFP Industries never employed more than 500 people in Michigan, how it was possible for it to layoff thousands of Michigan employees, the company further clarified.
To validate its claim of Afendoulis collecting $1 million in stock options while leaving the company, the Fix Congress Now! cites Afendoulis’ financial disclosure statement filed with the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15, 2020. The statement disclosed that Afendoulis owns stock dividends worth $500,001 and $1 million with UFP industries.
This claim was quashed by Dick Gauthier, vice president for business outreach at UFP Industries. Gauthier said that Afendoulis was never offered any stock options from the company, and whatever she owns could be purchased on her own.
Afendoulis, who worked at the company from 2003 to 2019 with the latest being director of corporate communications and community relations, said that she is a proud employee of UFP Industries.
Grand Rapids-based UFP Industries, formerly known as Universal Forest Products, currently employs 12,000 workers worldwide.
Taking action on campaign ads, UFP Industries has demanded the Fix Congress Now! to correct and retract the false claims on the mailers and send it again to Grand Rapids area voters.
The company is also considering sending a legal notice to the Fix Congress Now! over making false accusations and demanding the retraction.