Goshens Cequent workers still unsure of the fates of their jobs (UPDATED)
Posted: 11/20/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Justin Leighty
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Cequent workers lined U.S. 33 last month at one of the entrances to the plant to rally support to keep their jobs in Goshen rather than moving them to Mexico. ¬ (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo)
Cequent Performance Products workers lined Lincolnway East last month at one of the entrances to the plant to rally support to keep their jobs in Goshen rather than moving to Mexico. ¬ (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo)
“They made an announcement this morning that they weren’t going to make an announcement today,” said Deb Hathaway, vice president of USW Local 9550, the union representing the workers at the towing-products manufacturer.
Company employees learned in October that Cequent’s parent company, Michigan-based TriMas Corp., was considering moving the more than 350 jobs out of the country.
At that time, employees were left believing they’d learn their fate today.
However, Al Upchurch, spokesman for the company, said the only thing the company will say at this point is “There’s been no decision today.”
Hathaway said union leadership met with company officials over the weekend, trying to resolve the situation, which has now moved into the courts with a lawsuit filed by the union.
Hathaway said she’s not sure whether to believe the company’s announcement that there would be no announcement on the final decision today. “I think they’re trying to keep us off guard,” she said. “The last time when they did this, they made it at the end of the day.”
It’s possible, though, that it could come later this week. The company is providing a Thanksgiving dinner for employees Tuesday, she said. All workers have to be on hand Wednesday or risk losing pay for the Thanksgiving holiday, she said.
Whether or not a decision comes today, Hathaway said, police are at the factory on the city’s southeast side. “They did tell us in meetings the police would be here from now on. That’s just a safety precaution,” she said. “You haven’t even told us whether you’re going or staying, but the police are called in?”
All signs point to the company giving significant consideration to the move. In a filing Friday in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in South Bend, company lawyers wrote that the union’s “emotional plea to ‘save the jobs’ of the employees they represent is understandable, but it is without legal support and cannot carry the day.”
They also wrote that their contract with the union allows them to “close, discontinue or relocate all or any part of the operations or work performed in Goshen ... Cequent is presently considering whether to exercise its explicit and unequivocal right to close its facility in Goshen and relocate the operations and work to a Cequent facility located in a different country.”
Workers at the company said Cequent started moving equipment the day after telling employees they might lose their jobs. However, in the court filing, the company wrote, “If this matter were to proceed, Cequent would easily demonstrate that even these statements regarding the movement of parts, machinery and equipment are flat wrong.”
They also wrote, “Cequent has not even confirmed that the facility will close, much less that it will close in the immediate future.”