Navistar to increase production in Springfield, bring back laid off workers

Navistar employees build a truck on the assembly line at Springfield plant in 2017. The company is expected to ramp up production on its main line in July. Bill Lackey/Staff
Caption
Navistar employees build a truck on the assembly line at Springfield plant in 2017. The company is expected to ramp up production on its main line in July. Bill Lackey/Staff

Local union leaders representing workers at Navistar’s Springfield plant announced that production at the facility is slated to increase in July and laid off workers are expected to be called back as a result.

The production increase will impact the plant’s main line, which has traditionally assembled medium-duty trucks, including those for General Motors. The plant’s line two builds cutaway vans for GM.

Production on the main line is slated to go from 70 units per day to 115 units per day after seeing a reduction in 2019 as well as going into 2020 in the number of units being produced in Springfield.

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The news was shared to union members via a bulletin on Thursday from UAW Local 402, which represents assembly production workers as well as those in skilled trades at Navistar’s Springfield plant.

No additional details were provided by local union officials regarding the reason for the production increase. The News-Sun reached out to UAW Local 402 president Chris Blizard but had not received a response by late Friday afternoon.

The bulletin also mentioned that union members that are still on indefinite layoff will be called back into work over the next few months and Navistar will also need to hire additional employees.

“The actual number of employees the company will need for the product increase has yet to be determined,” the bulletin stated.

There are still 106 UAW Local 402 members on indefinite layoff and local union officials say they will update their members when more information is released by Navistar.

More than 300 of those workers were placed on indefinite lay off status starting in 2019 as the company scaled back truck production in Springfield to align with customer demand.

Between September of 2019 and January of 2020, the number of trucks built on the Springfield plant’s main line went from 117 per day to 70 per day.

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At the time, a spokesperson for Navistar said that the company had to adjust the number of trucks built at its Springfield plant in order to keep up with current demand for its products.

The spokesperson added that those types of decisions are common given the cyclical nature of the trucking industry.

In August, at least 124 call back letters had been sent to workers who were previously laid off as the company began bringing them back to replace attrition.

The coronavirus pandemic also caused production to stop temporarily in Springfield last year. However, employees who were impacted by the shutdown later returned to work.

A request for comment was made to Navistar on Friday regarding the planned increase in production slated for July. A spokesperson said they were working on getting more information for the News-Sun, but had not provided additional details as of Friday afternoon.

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