A Shelbyville supplier to Ford and other automakers will close at the end of July after its unionized workforce voted down a plan that would have cut wages and benefits by 40 percent without a company assurance that the plant would continue to operate through next year.
Martinrea International, a Canadian company, had initially demanded a 56 percent cut to wages and benefits for the 170 or so workers, said Dwayne Gilbert, president of United Auto Workers Local 2383. The UAW represents production workers and skilled tradesmen at the plant, which makes parts including doors, fenders and hoods, for vehicles.
The workers rejected the revised plan by a 90 percent to 10 percent vote on May 19, he said. The following week, the company told union leaders it would close the plant beginning July 31.
A company spokesman did not return a message left Thursday.
Under the proposed plan, pay for production workers would have fallen from $21.70 hourly to $12, Gilbert said. Skilled trade workers would have seen their pay decline from $25.55 to $20.
"It's hard to sell a 40 percent cut to anyone when you might be here a week, a month or not at all," Gilbert said.
Since Martinrea acquired the 21-year-old plant in 2006, the workforce had already agreed to other reductions in areas such as pensions and health care for retirees, Gilbert said.
As late as 2004, the factory had more than 1,150 workers, Gilbert said, and those who remain had been told they would receive more work in exchange for their previous benefit cuts.
"Things haven't materialized," said Gilbert. "There's a major trust factor here."
The cuts come as the plant has seen demand for its auto parts steadily decline. At one point, Gilbert said, the plant was producing materials for up to half a million Ford Explorers annually.
"We do 3,000 Explorers a month now," he said.
Reach Scott Sloan at (859) 231-1447 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 1447.