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Posted May 19, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Plant furloughs 133 workers

International Automotive Components in Strasburg
Traffic moves along East Queen Street outside International Automotive Components in Strasburg. The plant has furloughed 133 of its workers. Rich Cooley/Daily file

If console contract is taken to Mexico, 110 positions will be cut permanently

By James Heffernan -- jheffernan@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- International Automotive Components has furloughed 133 workers due to the shuttering of General Motors and Chrysler assembly plants, and unless IAC changes course on one of its GM contracts, 110 of them won't be coming back.

Richie Franklin, chairman of the bargaining committee for United Auto Workers Local 2999, which represents the Strasburg plant, said in an e-mail Monday that work will be slow until GM and Chrysler ramp up production.

"As the assembly plants come back up we will be calling people back to work," he said, though he added that some of the plants will be down through July.

The Strasburg IAC plant will continue to build interior parts for Ford, including the luxury Lincoln MKT and crossover Ford Flex, and it was recently awarded a contract to build consoles for the new 2010 Chevy Camaro. All three programs run through 2014.

More discouraging for the Strasburg plant is the possibility that IAC will shift production of consoles for the GMT 900 line of GM pickups and SUVs to an injection molding plant in Mexico.

"We should know within the next week or two if IAC intends to keep the 900 line in Strasburg or ship the work south," Franklin said.

IAC North America spokesman David Ladd said in an e-mail Monday the proposed course of action "is being driven by the need to be closer in proximity to our customers and reduce the overall cost of the products we produce." The company is evaluating existing IAC plants, both in the U.S. and Mexico, for the product line, he said.

If Strasburg were to lose the contract, 110 of the temporary layoffs would become permanent around July 12, according to a federal WARN act notice on the local UAW Web site.

"However, this notice is in anticipation that the GMT-900 Console line is leaving our facility, and we understand that International Automotive Components and General Motors have not finalized any details," it says.

Local union members will vote today on whether to extend the plant's current labor agreement for another year, Franklin said.

After shedding more than 200 workers in December ahead of a round of GM and Chrysler plant closings, the Strasburg facility was able to call back about 45 people over the winter.

The plant also builds front and rear interior door panels for the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. GM is dumping the Pontiac brand and moving up the end of production of Saturns and Hummers to this year.

Last week, GM announced it is severing ties with 1,100 of its dealerships nationwide -- though none locally -- as it scrambles to reorganize outside of bankruptcy court amid one of the worst periods for new car and truck sales in decades.

Chrysler LLC has already gone the Chapter 11 route, and is ending franchise agreements with some 800 of its dealerships in less than a month, including Edinburg Motors in Edinburg, and Kern Motor Co. and Parsons Chrysler-Kia in Winchester.

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