450 Goshen jobs could move to Mexico

The Goshen community is on edge, and on-notice that Cequent Performance Products may move production to Reynosa, Mexico.

Cequent now employs some 450 workers.

“Why is it a bad decision?” asked Mike O’Brien, District 7 Director of the United Steelworkers Union. “They’re profitable, I think it’s un-American, I think it violates the current collective bargaining agreement.”

Cequent’s parent company, TriMas, is in the process of looking at its overall competitiveness and a preliminary recommendation has been made to move the Goshen work to a plant in Mexico.

“A lot of them (workers) are very, very upset and I understand that they should be,” said O’Brien. “They should be upset with the people that make these decisions to use them as pawns on a chess board, or as a tool to be discarded when, when they believe that they can make more profit using something else.”

One employee expressed his anger with a large roadside sign outside his home that said, “Cequent moving to Mexico.”

Meantime, community leaders held out hope of putting up a roadblock, during a promised meeting with company executives. “We’ll clearly state how important they are to the community, that we would question why they would take such positions to Mexico,” explained Dorinda Heiden-Guss, Executive Director of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corporation. “The company does not know if we will really have an impact in their decision making.”

A final decision is expected by November 19th. The scenario is becoming somewhat familiar for the Steelworkers Union.

“Last year the company contacted us and wanted to move part of the work to Reynosa, Mexico, which they did, we filed a grievance which we didn’t prosecute because nobody was laid off or nobody was working shorter hours, said O’Brien. “And eventually they had to move some of that work back to the Goshen plant because it couldn't be done with the kind of quality they wanted. They moved it back, but now they’re going to make the same kind of mistake again on a much grander scale.”

Cequent makes trailer hitches and vehicle accessories. Today, parent company TriMas announced record net third quarter sales of $335 million, up 21 percent from the third quarter of 2011.