Navistar lays off more workers at Springfield plant following reduction in trucks built there

Navistar lays off more workers. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Navistar laid off 26 workers in Springfield on Friday as part of continuation of layoffs resulting from the company’s decision to reduce the number of trunks built there per day.

Last week, truck production on the Springfield plant’s main line, which also builds medium-duty commercial trucks for General Motors, was reduced from 97 to 70 per day. That decision led to 106 workers being laid off shortly after, not including the 26 that were laid off on Friday, said Chris Blizard, the president of UAW Local 402 .

Those affected by the most recent round of layoffs at the plant are members of UAW Local 402. That union represents assembly production workers as well as those with skilled trades at the Springfield plant.

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“In order to realign production with the current demand for our products, we will be adjusting line rates at our Springfield Assembly plant. This action is normal due to the cyclical nature of our business,” said Navistar spokesperson Lyndi McMillan in an email to the News-Sun last week.

The News-Sun reported in 2019 that the number of medium and heavy-duty trucks being built have surpassed demand nationally. Some companies are beginning to adjust their production rates as a result.

A reduction from 117 trucks to 97 trucks built per day at the Springfield plant in September led to 126 workers being laid off that month, the News-Sun reported. The company announced in November that it would be further reducing truck production at the plant starting in January.

At the time, local union officials argued that reducing the line to a production rate of 70 would be in direct violation of their contract with the company. They said that agreement called for a minimum of 90 trucks to be built per day on the main line of the Springfield plant.

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Another interpretation of the contract language is that Navistar is required to staff the main line with enough employees to accommodate at least 90 trucks per day and therefore the company can reduce production without violating the contract.

However, the number of workers needed at the line to support that production is still a matter of debate between union officials and Navistar, Blizard said.

Earlier this month, Navistar temporarily stopped production on line two, which makes cutaway vans for GM, at the Springfield plant due to a retooling at GM’s plant in Wentzville, Mo., that makes cabs for the GM vans assembled in Springfield.

However, production has resumed on that line, according to Blizard.

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