Piston Manufacturer Cutting Jobs After Ford Motor Ends Contract

Karl Schmidt Unisia might cut 140 to 150 jobs when piston-manufacturing contract expires June 30.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Piston maker Karl Schmidt Unisia Inc. plans to cut 140 to 150 jobs after learning that Ford Motor Co. will not renew a contract with the company.

Factory representatives do not know when the workers will be cut. The contract for 4.6-liter pistons expires June 30, but the plant will continue making Ford pistons until the new supplier is up to speed, human resources director Joe Cobb said.

''It could be July, but it could be months later than that depending on the people who are going to manufacture the piston,'' he said. ''A piston isn't something you can take off the shelf like a can of soup. It's a very highly engineered part and receives a lot of punishment.''

About 100 hourly and salaried employees will remain at the plant.

The company has made pistons for Ford for about 17 years, Cobb said. It failed to agree on a price with carmaker, which awarded the contract to another supplier.

Karl Schmidt Unisia also has a contract with General Motors Corp. and is looking for new deals too.

''This is not a plant closing,'' Cobb said. ''It is a cutback

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