Navistar to start work on new order of postal trucks in Springfield

Navistar will be building 162 trucks at its facility in Springfield for the United States Postal Service after more than 500 of those trucks from a previous order were built in Mexico.

“Every truck matters to us even if it’s just one truck order. That is work for our members,” said Chris Blizard, the president of UAW Local 402. His union represents production workers and those with skilled trades at the Springfield plant.

Approximately 150 of those trucks are a result of a new order from the postal service that is expected to enter production in May. The remaining 12 are leftover units from a previous order of 1,579 that were slated to be built in Springfield last year, Blizard said.

However, production for at least 590 of the trucks from the previous order were shifted to Navistar’s plant in Escobedo, Mexico after a nationwide strike at General Motor’s last fall caused a part shortage at the Springfield plant.

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Navistar also builds trucks and vans for GM at its Springfield plant. Navistar’s Springfield operation temporarily ceased production as a result of the strike that started in September and lasted six weeks.

However, postal service trucks were still being built in Mexico after the strike had ended and the Springfield plant had resumed a normal production schedule, Blizard said. The News-Sun previously reported that only 590 of those units slated for the postal service would be made in Mexico to ensure that Navistar could meet the postal service’s delivery deadline.

Employees with the Navistar plant reached out to the office of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D) due to concerns that those trucks were no longer being built in the area and that Springfield workers had sent decals for the Mexican facility to affix to the trucks.

Brown said in a letter addressed to Navistar’s CEO Troy Clarke earlier this year that discussions with employees at the Springfield plant revealed that they believed “approximately half of the USPS tractor truck order has been assembled in Springfield; 30 percent has already been assembled in Mexico; and the remaining 20 percent is scheduled to be produced in Mexico.”

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The letter also mentioned that the postal service told Brown’s office that its contract with Navistar was for 1,579 tractor trucks and that “the balance before and after will be satisfied as planned from the Ohio facility.”

Brown stated in his letter that after talking to both Navistar and USPS, it seemed that the former “could have returned production of the USPS trucks to Springfield after the GM strike but chose not to,” Brown said.

Blizard told the News-Sun that it is unclear how many of those trucks were built in Mexico since Navistar has not released that information to him. However, he said a few of those units have been built in Springfield since the end of the strike.

It is unclear if Navistar’s recent decision to have 162 postal service trucks assembled in Springfield is related to Brown’s letter. Representatives of Navistar did not respond to a request for comment from the News-Sun regarding the new order.

In a letter sent to UAW Local 402 members earlier this week, Blizard thanked Brown and his staff for meeting with him over the past several months to discuss “USPS trucks being built in Mexico with US tax dollars.”

Navistar International employees put together a truck on the assembly line in 2018. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

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