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ArvinMeritor to close plant by year’s end

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By Sharon Graves

The ArvinMeritor plant and its employees have been in limbo for months as jobs have been dwindling, people have been laid off and rumors swirled about the plant closing. It is now definite — the plant will close.

ArvinMeritor announced its decision to close the Carrollton plant by the end of this calendar year, company spokesman Krista Sohm announced May 13 in a press release. A total of 129 jobs will be eliminated with the closing, according to the company.

The annoucement states that the company plans to move its wheel-end assembly operations to other facilities in Kentucky and Ohio, but they will outsource the machining or casting operations. ArvinMeritor will no longer have the machining or casting operations as a division in the company, according to Sohm.

“Although the employees in Carrollton have demonstrated a strong commitment to performance and quality, the continued weakness in the global markets has driven the company to aggressively reduce costs to lower its breakeven point,” Wayne Watson, general manager, North American Operations for ArvinMeritor said in the press release.  “Closing the Carrollton operation is another necessary step toward improving the company’s overall cost structure.”

The press release also states that the company’s management team will discuss the effects of the decision with union officials this week.  

Sohm said that as far as severance for employees goes, the company intends to follow the contract.

“Severance is not written into the contract,” David Hutton, local 1813 union president said.  “We are attempting to negotiate severance right now.”

Hutton and other union officials had said in a previous interview that they believed the company would close the Carrollton plant. The company first announced that it would close the machining operation and later added the possibility that the foundry operations would close.

“This is a terrible ordeal when you have that many people losing their employment,” Judge Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson said in a phone interview Monday, May 18.  If you dedicate 25 to 30 years to a company most employees would like to think this wouldn’t happen, Tomlinson explained.

There will be a financial impact on the county through the loss of occupational taxes and other taxes, but Tomlinson also said that these people live here and they spend money here.

ArvinMeritor officials have said that some of the layoffs at the Carrollton plant will begin as early as July.