Indianapolis foundry to close Sept. 30, eliminating 881 jobs

Indianapolis foundry to close Sept. 30, eliminating 881 jobs
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - DaimlerChrysler AG will close its Indianapolis foundry and eliminate 881 jobs by Sept. 30, reducing the automaker's once formidable Indiana manufacturing presence to just the city of Kokomo.
     
DaimlerChrysler recently notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development of the closure under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act. The law requires employers to give 60 days notice before certain plant closings and layoffs. The loss of 881 jobs is the largest in Indiana under WARN this year.
     
A provision in the four-year labor agreement struck by the automaker and the United Auto Workers in 2003 called for the foundry to close by the end of the third quarter of 2005, company spokeswoman Curtrise Garner said Friday.
     
"The company and union jointly agreed to that," she said by telephone from DaimlerChrysler's U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
     
News reports at the time of the labor agreement said DaimlerChrysler would phase out the foundry over four years. The plant along Interstate 70 west of downtown Indianapolis produces V-6 and V-8 engine blocks.
     
UAW Local 550 represents workers at the foundry. Local President James Clark had little to say about the closure when asked for comment Friday. The affected workers, most of whom now live in Indianapolis, have been offered jobs at a variety of other DaimlerChrysler plants, he said.
     
Workers who choose to transfer to another DaimlerChrysler plant instead of retiring receive 95 percent of their base pay after taxes until a new job is found for them, Garner said.
     
Department of Workforce Development agency officials will meet with DaimlerChrysler representatives next Thursday to discuss state job assistance to the affected workers, agency spokesman Kip Chase said.
     
The plant was owned by American Foundry Co. until Chrysler bought it in 1946. The automaker invested in major upgrades there in 1964, 1978, 1988, and the late 1990s.
     
The closing will diminish DaimlerChrysler's presence in Indiana to Kokomo, where three transmission plants and an aluminum casting plant employ about 7,500 workers. The automaker spun off its 1,400-worker New Castle machine shop to a joint venture three year ago, ending a 96-year history in the eastern Indiana city where the high school still bears the Chrysler name.
     
The notice to the state of 881 jobs being lost topped Indiana's largest previous WARN job loss this year, for 613 jobs eliminated with the June closure of Tower Automotive's auto frame assembly plant in Corydon.      
      
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)