GREENCASTLE — Hundreds of layoffs are coming soon and have families in Putnam County shocked, angry and disappointed.
International Automotive Components in Greencastle is expected to slash its workforce by more than 300 jobs, the union president said.
Angela Freeman has spent 28 years at IAC. With the news of substantial layoffs, she said she's at a loss.
"I'm 54 years old. I've still got to do 13 years somewhere, gonna have to start all over again, try to figure out what the next move is and only a short time to figure it out," Freeman said.
Cheryl Ellington has worked on the assembly line for more than 30 years.
"I hate that it's going on," Ellington said. "I feel sorry for the people who has kids."
These women said they work with many couples and some with health issues, who are now scrambling to figure out insurance and replacing two paychecks.
"We're family and this company is just tearing us apart for profit," Jason Waller, president and chairman of the UAW Local 2382, said.
Local 2382 President Jason Waller said the 400 or so employees were told by corporate layoffs would start in August, then in October and again in December.
"And that we would be left with a few small parts and some service work, which would be 65 people approximately left in the plant out of about 400 that we have now," Waller said.
He said more than 75 employees were already permanently laid off with production changes earlier this year. Those layoffs led to some suspicions and rumors.
"They've been trickling people out and trying to run us as short as possible for a while," Waller said.
Waller said he was told by the company the jobs will be heading to IAC's plants in Michigan. WARN notices are expected in June.
"There's no regard for anybody that's here," Waller said.
Waller said the union has tried working with the company before. Earlier this year, they signed and ratified a new contract after months of negotiations. Those contracts, he said, the company now won't honor.
"We were told that we're making money, we're profitable on our doors, but they can make more somewhere else," Waller said.
Mike Birchman, the vice president of the union and on the bargaining committee, has been with IAC for 23 years. He’s hoping to keep his position as long as possible to help the remaining employees after the layoffs.
“I’m going to stay here as long as possible and then move on to bigger things I guess,” Birchman said. “I mean if I retake my position, I’ll be here until the end. I’m hoping to be here to try to negotiate the best severance package for the employees who remain. I’m hoping I can see it through.”
IAC Group declined WRTV's request for an interview, but released the following statement:
IAC Group confirms that employees at its Greencastle, Indiana, manufacturing facility have been informed that the facility will undergo layoffs in August 2021.
The layoffs come following a thorough analysis of IAC’s manufacturing capacity and alignment with customer production plans.
IAC Group management will work closely with the local union and affected employees to support them and their families through this process.
Waller said the union is working with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, trade adjustment assistance and food banks to help provide resources to families impacted by the losses.
WRTV spoke with Greencastle Mayor William Dory Jr. on the phone. He declined to comment until he met with IAC, but said he is committed to working with employees and providing assistance.
WRTV also spoke with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, who said he wasn't aware of the layoffs, but he's committed to helping.
"We want to make sure Hoosiers know that across the whole state of Indiana, there's 108,000 unfilled jobs right now," Holcomb said. "So sometimes we have to connect the dots and get you first to that credential, or that certificate, or that degree or that training. And fortunately, we have that regionally around the state of Indiana. It's never good news to hear what you just shared, but I will assure you that we will be right there on-site connecting people to those programs, getting them back to work."
Job cuts and new jobs in Indiana
It's been a tough year for workers statewide who lost their jobs.
Since January, nine companies announced plans to close or lay off their workers.
Those closing impacted more than 400 workers and the layoffs impacted more than 300 workers.
The majority of those closures and layoffs come from the healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing industries in Indianapolis, Franklin, Lafayette and South Bend.
According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, in 2020, Indiana got 282 companies to move or grow in Indiana. Those announcements involved 31,300 new jobs that will be created over the next few years.
If companies don't come through with the jobs, they won't get tax breaks.
Through Hiring Hoosiers, WRTV is looking to connect you to employment opportunities.
WRTV Investigates Reporter Rafael Sanchez, Senior News Producer Rick Harker, Photographer Otis Jones and Real-Time Editor Andrew Smith contributed to this report.