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Job cuts begin at east-side steering parts plant

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Fifteen salaried employees working at an east-side plant operated by a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co. will lose their jobs on March 31 as the facility winds down operations.

The Visteon Corp. workers are leased to Automotive Components Holdings LLC and could be the first casualties of Automotive Components’ plan to close the plant by late 2011, Michigan-based Visteon said in a letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. 

“It is assumed that these permanent layoffs will eventually impact all of the Visteon employees leased to ACH’s Indianapolis plant as ACH has informed Visteon that it intends to close the facility on a date still to be determined,” the letter said.

Ford created Automotive Components in 2005 to buy back the assets of bankrupt spin-off Visteon. Ford tried to sell it and other manufacturing facilities under the Automotive Components umbrella, but failed to line up a buyer.

Automotive Components has targeted the factory for closure since 2006. Ford is phasing out the hydraulic steering systems made there in favor of electric power steering.

Automotive Components originally announced in 2006 that the shutdown would come at the end of 2008, but the United Auto Workers struck a competitive operating agreement that extended their work through 2010.

But the wind-down has occurred more slowly than expected because of a delay in Ford’s business plan. The automaker now says it will use electric power steering in all models by 2013.

About 900 Indianapolis Ford employees, including 754 represented by the United Auto Workers union, ultimately will lose their jobs.

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