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UAW salvages Navistar foundry on brink of closing

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In a last-ditch effort, the United Auto Workers is salvaging an east-side Indianapolis foundry that Navistar International Corp. has planned to close since last year.

A five-year contract ratified late Tuesday covers 250 workers in UAW Local 226 who work at Indianapolis Casting Corp. The foundry is on the campus of Navistar's former diesel-engine plant at 5565 Brookville Road, which closed last summer. The foundry serves other Navistar facilities as well.

"Our goal now is to go out and get new business, get new work," said Ron Dubree, international service representative for the UAW's Region 3. "Hopefully this agreement makes us competitive."

Navistar originally planned to close the entire engine-plant campus by July 31, 2009, costing about 700 workers their jobs. But the foundry's closing date has been pushed back several times over the past year, with July 16 the last date planned, Dubree said. Local 226 approved a closing agreement two weeks ago, but then the UAW came up with a proposal to keep the foundry open. The new contract was ratified by 58 percent of the local members.

The new contract reduces vacation time, holidays and pay, and it includes a buyout package for older workers. The new pay structure is $17 per hour for production jobs and $23 for skilled trades and technical positions.

"In my eyes, it's really for the younger workers," Dubree said.

Although the foundry will be open long-term, Navistar has built a backlog of parts and is planning a shutdown of four months to six months starting Friday, Dubree said. Workers will be recalled according to seniority.

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  • Don't thank the UAW
    The ridiculous demands of the UAW during a declining market are what caused this turmoil to begin with. Navistar would still be assembling engines, as well as pouring iron, at this facility if the union had any clue about what competition in a global market really means. Don't categorize this as the UAW "saving" the plant. Any employee, manager, or supplier of this facility know that this is about as credible as Al Gore writing a global warming speech in his Gulfstream 5.

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