Oklahoma Auto Parts Plant Closing

Nearly 250 ArvinMeritor Inc. packaging and distribution center employees will lose their jobs.

CHICKASHA, Okla. (AP) — An auto parts plant that began moving its operations from its facility in Chickasha to Mexico two years ago said it will close the central Oklahoma plant by April.
 
The decision by Michigan-based ArvinMeritor Inc. will leave nearly 250 packaging and distribution center employees without jobs after they survived consolidation at the plant in 2005 and 2006.
 
The earlier cuts eliminated about 270 manufacturing jobs at the plant when it moved its shock and strut operations to its facility in Queretaro, Mexico.
 
Friday's announcement caps a two-year emotional ride for the community and the remaining ArvinMeritor employees, said John Grote, president of the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce.
 
''It's always a shock to get an announcement like this,'' he said. ''There has been a strong suspicion that they would be shutting down operations at some point, but just two months ago, the rumor was they would expand here.
 
''Five years ago, 250 jobs wouldn't be that much of an impact at all,'' Grote said. ''It's hard to quantify exactly what the economic impact will be, but the loss of those jobs will definitely have an impact.''
 
The southwestern Oklahoma community also recently lost about 600 jobs when Delta Faucet closed its Chickasha manufacturing center.
 
The ArvinMeritor closure is part of larger effort by the company to cut costs. The company also said Friday it will move its original equipment shock absorber operations from Toronto, Ontario, to its Mexico facility.
 
The company and union representatives will discuss comprehensive severance packages, ArvinMeritor spokeswoman Colleen Hanley said.
 
State officials will work the displaced workers, said state Department of Commerce spokeswoman Leslie Blair, by helping them with resume building, interview tips and other job placement services.
 
Despite the recent manufacturing job losses, displaced ArvinMeritor workers likely will have little difficulty finding new work, Grote said.
 
''If there is a silver lining to this, it is we are suffering from a very low unemployment rate and companies are begging for workers,'' he said.
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