Cequent workers rally to keep their jobs

Cequent workers took to the street Monday to rally support for keeping their jobs in Goshen instead of shipping them to Mexico.

Posted on Oct. 30, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Cequent workers took to the street Monday to try to rally support for their efforts to keep their jobs in Goshen.

“We just want to keep our jobs here,” said Nate Croy, one of the workers who gathered along U.S. 33 with signs and American flags.

Cequent’s 400-plus local employees learned recently that their jobs may be sent to Mexico. That decision will be made by their parent company, TriMas, which last week reported record third quarter results. “We believe that the consistent, positive performance we have achieved is the mark of leading businesses, solid plans and a great team,” said David Wathen, president and chief executive officer of Michigan-based TriMas, in last week’s earnings announcement.

That “great team” here isn’t feeling like they’re getting credit, though, for the growth in the towing products they make.

“What happened to the American way.” Croy asked.

Daniel Rocha, standing with Croy, said, “They told us they were going to think about us closing. Two days later we found out about the severance packages” offered to salaried employees, he said.

The company is thinking about moving the jobs to Mexico and paying Mexican workers $4.50 an hour, Rocha said.

“This goes beyond a union thing or non-union thing,” Rocha said, as drivers on the busy highway next to him honked in support.

Andrew Holland said, “It’s about American jobs staying in America. We make high-liability parts. That breaks going down the road, it can kill somebody.”

Rocha said they make about $20 an hour, but wage negotiations with the United Steelworkers, representing the employees, aren’t part of this issue.

Mark Schmanski, who describes himself as politically conservative and has worked at the company for more than 19 years, said Cequent’s Goshen division brought in $300 million for TriMas in 2010. “They made all these profits here and it’s not enough for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the men said shutting down the Goshen operations could also have a negative impact on nearby gas stations and restaurants which see heavy traffic from Cequent employees.

Croy said it’s frustrating to see people who have worked decades for the company now face getting the boot.

“We try to do what our parents and grandparents said, graduate and get a good job. It’s not working out,” said Croy.

The employees said they’ve been told they’ll learn their fate next month.

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