Bobcat Idling Plants During June, July

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Bobcat Co. says its plants in Bismarck and Gwinner will be idle for part of June and July due to a sluggish worldwide economy.

The maker of skid-steer loaders and light construction equipment says its Bismarck plant will be closed next Wednesday through Friday and again July 6 through July 10.

At the Gwinner plant, production workers will be off the job from June 10 through June 12, from June 24 through June 26 and June 29.

The announcement comes a little more than a month after Bobcat said it would cut nearly 250 jobs at the two North Dakota plants. It has said it expects the construction market to improve next year.

Bobcat spokeswoman Laura Ness Owens said salaried workers, including research and development and engineers, will remain at work during the suspensions. The company still plans a trade show in mid-June to showcase its newest products.

"They're just shutting down, basically, because right now, we're building to order," said Jeremy Bauer, president of the Bismarck United Local Steelworkers Union 566.

The plant has only two orders to work on, he said -- "Plain and simple."

Employees got the word in the morning Wednesday.

"It's just due to sales being soft," said Tom Ricker, the president of the United Steelworkers Local 560 in Gwinner. Workers are starting to get frustrated he said, but the job outlook is not very good anywhere else, either.

A shutdown the week of July 6 has been planned for the last year to move equipment, he said.

"June, July and August are generally our slower months," he said.

Ricker said workers would like to see trade agreements changed to give U.S. companies more of a chance to compete globally.

Bobcat is owned by Doosan Infracore International, a subsidiary of South Korea-based Doosan Infracore. The construction industry has been hit hard by the recent national and worldwide economic turmoil.

Workers at the North Dakota plants returned to their jobs in February after an eight-week layoff. The plants also were shut down for part of March.

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