200 manufacturing jobs to be cut as Milan's ACH plant eliminates fascia business
About 200 workers at the Ford Motor Co.-controlled Automotive Components Holdings plant in Milan will be displaced, a spokeswoman confirmed this morning.
ACH is cutting the fascia manufacturing line at the 1.28-million-square-foot plant, which employs about 600 workers, said Della DiPietro, a spokeswoman for ACH. The cuts will be phased in by the end of the year, but the plant's fuel tank production capability will be maintained.
The displaced workers could be transitioned to new plants depending on seniority and provisions spelled out in the United Auto Workers contract. However, they could also be laid off.
File photo | AnnArbor.com
Ford formed ACH in 2005 to sell or close 17 former Visteon
"Despite lots of effort and many improvements, the plant was uncompetitive in the area of fascias," DiPietro said. "There is a lot of capacity in North America, in the United States and, in fact, the majority of this business is going to other locations in Michigan.
"So, as we looked at marketing this facility both in the past and in the present, there was very limited market interest in the fascia business at the plant. And we believe that a fuel tank only operation will generate more market interest."
Bernie Ricke, president of UAW Local 600, which represents the plant, could not be reached for comment.
Kym Muckler, mayor of the city of Milan, said the cuts mean that the city likely would institute a hiring freeze to account for projected lost revenue. ACH is appealing its personal property tax assessment to the Michigan Tax Tribunal for the second time in recent years.
The plant's 2010 taxable value, including real property, personal property and abated property, adds up to $36.8 million. The plant, which is located on the Monroe County side of the city of Milan, is expected to pay about $463,000 in property taxes this year.
Muckler said the cuts are a disheartening blow.
"On many different levels this is upsetting for us, because that's 200 people who we know come into the city every day, who come in for lunch, who use our services, who enjoy our town and spend money here and won't anymore," she said.
The unwinding of the plant's fascia business comes about 15 months after a deal to sell the entire plant to Illinois-based auto supplier Flex-N-Gate collapsed. That deal, announced in December 2006, ultimately fell apart as the industry collapsed in the midst of the economic crisis.
"They had a lot of very successful companies that were interested
before, but the fact that they had this fascia line was kind of a
turnoff for people," Muckler said.
Muckler said she was still hopeful that the plant could find a buyer willing to invest in its future.
"But I'm just worried about how long it will take," she said.
The cuts illustrate the continuing impact of the state's manufacturing contraction on the Ann Arbor region.
Washtenaw County had 19,120 workers in vehicle manufacturing in
1990, according to a study conducted for AnnArbor.com in March by the
University of Michigan.
That figure is down to 4,111 and will drop to 3,281 by 2012,
according to U-M projections. That would account for about 1.8 percent
of the county's jobs.
General Motors said last year that it would shutter its Willow Run powertrain plant by the end of 2010, displacing more than 1,300 workers. Some 500 workers were displaced when Ypsilanti's ACH plant was shuttered, although a tubular parts maker recently acquired the site with plans to redevelop it.
Saline's ACH plant is operating at full capacity with about 2,000 workers producing interior parts.