Deadline set in Hoover machinery squabble

Deadline set in Hoover machinery squabble
 
Date September 26, 2005
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By the CANTON REPOSITORY

Special to the Daily News

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Factory workers at the Hoover plant should know by the end of November if production machinery will be hauled to plants in the Southwest.

An agreement finalized early Friday sets a Nov. 21 deadline for an arbitration ruling on whether Maytag Corp., Hoover’s parent company, can move up to 14 injection molding machines to El Paso.

The machines are used to make a carpet extractor line. Moving the machines could eliminate 150 current jobs and keep another 150 laid-off workers from returning.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1985 filed a suit in U.S. District Court to block Maytag‘s attempt to move the machines. During a Sept. 8 hearing, the company and union were told to resolve the dispute through arbitration.

James Repace, Local 1985 president, updated members on the arbitration Friday afternoon, and used the update to quash rumors that Maytag plans to close the local factory in December.

“Although we cannot predict the future, Hoover Co. is not closing in December, nor is there any discussion going on about a plant closing or any immediate plans of the Hoover Co. closing,” Repace wrote to members. “Please, as I have stated before, do not get caught up in rumors.”

Repace said rumors of a closing ran rampant through the plant on Thursday and Friday morning. On Wednesday, Maytag announced lower earnings.

Friday’s agreement states Maytag can move no more than 10 injection molding machines before Nov. 21. Of the 10 machines that might be moved, two are scrap, Repace said.

Maytag isn’t allowed to move two robotics machines or any molds until after the arbitration is settled. Maytag also must place $80,000 in an escrow account to cover the cost of returning machinery to North Canton if Local 1985 wins the arbitration.

Plans to cut jobs and move the equipment were announced in April. Since then, Maytag has agreed to be purchased by Whirlpool. Union officials had hoped to block the production cuts until after the sale. The $1.7 billion deal is expected to be completed early in 2006.

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