Amsted Rail pushes back some layoffs at Hammond plant

2012-12-30T19:00:00Z 2012-12-31T22:33:03Z Amsted Rail pushes back some layoffs at Hammond plantChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Layoffs at Amsted Rail are occurring later and may affect fewer employees than originally projected.

The manufacturer expects to recall at least 12 employees in January for training.

The company, which has occupied its Hammond location for more than 110 years, announced earlier this year plans to layoff 94 union employees starting Dec. 17.

Instead, 51 employees were scheduled to be laid off Dec. 22, according to a letter Amsted sent to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The company extended the layoff date for another 43 employees to Feb. 2, and it will determine if those layoffs are needed by customer demand, the letter states.

The company, at 4831 Hohman Ave., manufactures springs for rail cars and work is cyclical in nature, said Bill Carey, a United Steelworkers District 7 staff representative for Local 2003, which represents production and maintenance workers at the plant.

“Some years they build lots of cars and other years it drops,” Carey said. “Apparently there is a drop this year, but this plant has seen this kind of work load in the past where there has been a drop in orders and there's layoffs. Then orders pick up and people are called back to work.”

The company is planning a $7.7 million investment over the next two years at the plant to add equipment and renovate the building.

The city approved a 10-year tax abatement on the investment in June, which is projected to save the company $543,532 in property taxes over the time period. The company still will pay taxes on all its existing property and approximately $537,740 in additional taxes on the renovations over the 10-year period.

The company's human resources manager did not return a call for comment as of Friday afternoon.

The company has said the layoffs were because of “unforeseeable business circumstances regarding the dramatic downturn in our business.”

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