The pending Oct. 9 closure of Union City Body Co. (UCBC) by parent company Grand Vehicle Works Holding LCC is having a ripple effect on union workers at sister company Workhorse Custom Chassis, according to a report in the Palladium-Item.
Illinois-based Grand Vehicle Works, parent to both companies located in the small east-central Indiana town of Union City, announced the closing last month of 106-year-old UCBC.
Based on seniority, displaced UCBC union workers are replacing less experienced Workhorse hourly employees because both companies are part of the same union and share a seniority list.
“The older worker from the body company can go replace the younger worker at Workhorse, so we’re going to have a young work force out of work,” said Joe Wolfe, head of the Community and Economic Development Corp. in Randolph County, Ind.
UCBC manufactures bodies for delivery step vans for customers like the U.S. Post Office. Workhorse, which employs around 255 workers, entered the RV chassis building market five years ago after purchasing production rights from General Motor Corp. for the former P-Series Chevrolet chassis.
The paper reported that the loss of 86 manufacturing jobs would have serious impact on the already job-hungry area. According to the Indiana Department of Labor, Randolph County in July had an unemployment rate of 7.8%, making it the 12th highest county in Indiana for unemployment.
UCBC is not the first company in the area to close, and locals say the problem now is that there’s few large manufacturers left to absorb the displaced workers.
“They don’t have anything else,” said Twila Bowler, who has lived most her life near Union City.
Small business owner Doug Reid has lived in Union City for 28 years and said he’s seen the town’s business and manufacturers slowly close.
“The community has been through a lot of other major closings,” he said. “It’s going to be rough for the people that lose their jobs, but life goes on and they will find new jobs.”
The Indiana Department of Commerce has begun trying to help the displaced employees look for new jobs and offering worker training opportunities.
“Hopefully we can get those people retrained and in the job market again,” Wolfe said.