cummins_logoCummins Inc. is recalling 400 laid-off workers as it resumes production at a Columbus, Ind., factory, but nearly 300 people lost their jobs when an auto parts company idled a plant in nearby Shelbyville.

Cummins is preparing to resume production of the Dodge Ram engine at its Columbus MidRange Engine Plant with one shift beginning July 13, according to the Associated Press. The company shut down the plant and laid off 720 employees in May after Chrysler stopped vehicle production during its bankruptcy proceedings.

Cummins spokesman Mark Land said the plant would produce engines for the 2009 model Ram through mid-August, but that it would be idled again until Chrysler starts building the truck’s 2010 model. He said workers were expected to be called back again in October.

Land said Cummins has “solid commitments” from Chrysler for the 2010 Dodge Ram.

“We were confident,” Land said of continuing business with Chrysler. “But it’s nice to see that it’s really happening.”

Developments were less encouraging at the Meridian Automotive Systems factory in Shelbyville, where the company told city officials Thursday (July 2)  that it was closing the plant for an indefinite period.

The announcement came less than a month after Meridian announced it planned to lay off 198 workers from the plant in stages over the summer.

The Allen Park, Mich.-based company said then that the layoffs were necessary because it had lost a major customer, which it did not identify. Meridian has made various parts for several automotive companies, including General Motors.

Shelbyville Mayor Scott Furgeson said the new announcement superseded Meridian’s previous schedule of job cuts.

“I don’t know Meridian’s position as a company, so I don’t know their long-term plan with this facility,” Ferguson said. “So hopefully they will continue to keep the plant in their long-term plans and will someday reopen it.”

Auto industry layoffs across the state helped push Indiana’s unemployment rate to 10.6% in May – double from the 5.3% of May 2008 and the state’s highest jobless rate since 1983.