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Union workers at Goshen's Cequent plant take severance deal

February 23, 2013

Union workers at a northern Indiana trailer-hitch manufacturer have voted to forego arbitration and accept a severance agreement that will pay the most senior employees $36,000.

Most of the 350 United Steelworkers Local 9550 workers at Cequent Performance Products in Goshen supported the package in votes tallied Friday night, Local 9550 Vice President Deb Hathaway said.

"No matter what they give us it's still not enough for us losing our jobs," she said.

Steelworkers Sub District 4 Director Mike O'Brien said 240 of the 350 union members at the plant voted. He didn't disclose vote totals.

"It was certainly not unanimous but it wasn't close," O'Brien said. "I think a lot of people looked at, 'Well, this is what the company is offering and we take a chance going to arbitration.'"

Cequent, a subsidiary of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based TriMas Corp., announced in November it would move operations from the 450-employee plant 25 miles southeast of South Bend to Reynosa, Mexico, to lower shipping costs.

Workers with less than a year's seniority will receive $500 while those with 30 years or more will receive $36,000. Workers also will receive company health benefits for at least a month after they are laid off. The total severance package is worth more than $3.5 million, O'Brien said.

Layoffs began Friday, but O'Brien said he didn't know how many workers lost their jobs.

More than half the employees are scheduled to remain on the job through the end of June, with the last due to be let go in December. 

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