HUNTINGTON, Ind. -- Union leaders expect 100 workers to be let go during the second round of layoffs at United Technologies Electronic Controls in Huntington next week as the company begins to move some of their jobs to Mexico.
Union leaders say those workers will leave the facility on March 31st.
About 50 pink slips were given out in the first round of layoffs on March 10th.
The next round of layoffs would leave around 500 production jobs at the Huntington facility.
“They’ve really screwed these people over,” said Bill Davis, president of the IBEW Union Local 983. “I’m going to be able to retire. It’s not going to hurt me, but it’s going to hurt the group that I’ve represented for 30 years.”
The parent company of UTEC also owns the Carrier plant in Indianapolis where layoffs could begin as early as August. Roughly 550 positions from Indianapolis are also heading to Monterrey, Mexico where Carrier has a significant operation and several facilities.
About 40 Huntington workers met at their Union Hall on Thursday to voice their concerns about the upcoming cuts.
Many, like Susan Cropper, raised concerns about being unable to leave with a full pension.
Workers said they were led to believe they would get the same benefits as the Carrier workers that were being laid off in Indianapolis. For example, anyone who is 60-years-old with 15 years on the job or 55-years-old with 30 years on the job at the Carrier plant would be eligible for a full pension.
“It’s an issue of fairness,” said Cropper. “This company can afford to do this for the nine employees in our facility.”
Cropper is 55 and has 30 years of service with the company, but because she works in Huntington, she will have to settle for a severance package.
Call 6 Investigates reached out to United Technologies regarding the pension dispute.They sent the following statement via email:
"Union contracts and benefit plans differ from business to business, union to union, and facility to facility. This particular provision has been part of the Carrier Indianapolis facility’s pension plan with the United Steelworkers for many years. It was not a benefit provided as part of the recently agreed-upon separation benefits.
Regardless of individual circumstances or facility of employment, we remain appreciative of all of our employees’ hard work and dedication and are providing impacted employees with a comprehensive benefits package to help ease the transition."
“All you have to do is walk through our plant and look at the bare spots on the floor from the lines that have already went. They’re gone,” said Cropper. “It’s devastating.”
A United Technologies spokesperson sent an updated statement the morning of March 17.
It reads as follows:
"Union contracts and benefits plans are separate from the comprehensive separation benefits package we’re providing impacted employees. These pre-existing agreements vary business to business, union to union, facility to facility.
The pre-existing UTEC pension plan did not include either provision referenced in your story. However, because eligibility for the Carrier Indianapolis-United Steelworkers pension provision for employees 60 and over with 15 years’ service was specifically tied to a facility closure, we were pleased to be able to also grant this benefit to our UTEC employees as requested, as an additional separation benefit."