Caterpillar to Close Pennsylvania Plant, Eliminate 1,100 Jobs
YORK, Pa. (AP) _ Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday it will begin closing an earthmoving equipment parts plant, eliminating 1,100 jobs over a two-to-three year period, because the operation is not competitive.
A parts warehouse employing 300 members of the United Auto Workers union will remain open in York, Caterpillar said in a statement from its headquarters at Peoria, Ill.
The factory was among those targeted in a 17-month strike that ended last year without a new contract.
Caterpillar first raised concerns with union leaders about the facility’s cost competitiveness and the possibility of closing it in December 1991. Since then, the company said, it held repeated discussions with UAW leaders.
The company said it had offered wages of $17.50 to $21 per hour and a guarantee the plant would stay open through September 2001.
Local workers rejected the proposal in December and went back to work, the company said.
``They wanted to bust the union. They wanted to take everything away from us,″ said Barry Koicuba, president of UAW’s Local 786, where 800 of its members are to lose their jobs.
Gov. Tom Ridge and U.S. Rep. William Goodling plan to meet with company and union officials to see whether the closing decision can be reversed, said Ridge’s spokesman Tim Reeves.
The state had offered its mediation services to both sides, but neither side accepted.
Caterpilllar chief executive officer Donald Fites talked with Ridge Tuesday, but only to tell him personally of the closing.
``Both sides seem to feel this dispute is beyond resolution,″ Ridge said.
``But Congressman Goodling and I agree we have to make one last attempt,″ the governor added. ``There are too many jobs at stake.″
The York County Industrial Development Corp. was working with the state Commerce Department to monitor developments involving its seventh-largest employer.
But David Carver of the development agency said ``the announcement, while regrettable, is not unexpected,″
With 890 manufacturing companies in York County, the local economy has survived on its diversity, Carver said. About 250 new jobs are created every year and the county has 48,000 manufacturing jobs besides the Caterpillar workforce, he said.