Grievance targets Cequent move to Mexico

There may be a contractual trump card that could keep some 450-jobs in Goshen, from moving to Mexico.

Last week, on the day before Thanksgiving, Cequent Performance Products announced that it would close its Goshen plant.

Today, the United Steelworkers Union vowed to battle back. “We’ve told our members that we’re not done fighting,” said Michael O’Brien, Sub-District 4 Director.

While the union realizes that it can’t keep Cequent in Goshen forever, it does have a contract with the company that may get the job done through its expiration in March of 2014.

“There is a specific provision in the contract that says the company cannot contract or outsource any work customarily performed by the membership, that would cause a layoff or the members to work short hours,” said O”Brien. “I won arbitration cases like that before, and I've, not going to mention the companies (names) but at least one company, it cost them $12 million to move the work back, but they were ordered to move the work back.”

And while Cequent may have lost interest in doing business in Goshen, other companies have apparently expressed an interest in the building.

“They have a lease on their existing facility and so, as I understand it, within one year they will be vacating that property and thereby making that structure available for another employer or an existing company that they wish to expand into it,” said Dorinda Heiden-Guss, the Executive Director of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation.

Heiden-Guss also says she’s received phone calls from local companies interested in hiring displaced Cequent workers.

“They would probably take most of 2013 to close it,” said Michael O’Brien, “They would start laying some people off in January but it would continue until the end of 2013.”

While the situation at Cequent is certainly bad news for Elkhart County, the county has also seen its share of success.

For instance, at the December 8th meeting of the Elkhart County Council there are two expansion projects up for final approval that promise to create some 280-jobs, and another two projects set to be introduced, that have the potential to create about 100 more jobs.

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