New Process Gear, a transmission parts
maker owned by Canadian-based Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG.A),
plans to lay off about 1,650 workers at its suburban Syracuse plant,
union officials say.
More than 300 other employees were laid off Jan. 2 as the United
Auto Workers continued negotiating a new contract with Magna.
Before the layoffs, the plant employed 2,700 people.
Magna spokeswoman Tracy Fuerst said Thursday she could confirm
only that New Process Gear is ``experiencing temporary layoffs.''
She did not specify the number or length of the layoffs but said the
plant is suffering from slack demand.
``I will not comment on this issue because, (as you know), we are
still going through negotiations, and it would be premature for me
comment,'' Fuerst said.
A UAW handbill said there would be 96 layoffs this week, 1,123
next week and 437 the week of Jan. 28. The handbill declared: ``We
are simply fighting for our survival.''
Local UAW officials were continuing contract talks Thursday and
were unavailable for comment, a secretary said.
New Process Gear was formerly owned by DaimlerChrysler, which
targeted it for closure during national auto contract talks in 2003.
Instead, DaimlerChrysler sold a majority of the plant to Magna.
DaimlerChrysler got union acceptance of the deal by promising to
pay workers then at New Process Gear through 2011.
Magna undertook to invest $75 million in the plant but workers
say they see little evidence of that.
Magna has told the union it cannot afford to keep the factory
open with its current cost structure and it plans to close the
The union persuaded the company, headquartered north of Toronto,
to keep negotiating.
``We have to get a good agreement for the plant,'' local
president Doug Havens told the Syracuse Post-Standard of Syracuse,
adding that the agreement must include more investment in the
Magna, which has over 80,000 employees in 23 countries, earned
$155 million in its latest reported quarter, up from $94 million a
year earlier as July-September sales grew to $6.08 billion from
In reporting those results, co-CEO Don Walker observed that the
auto industry ``remains difficult, particularly in North America,''
but Magna is positioning itself to exploit growth opportunities