Rail equipment supplier Trinity Industries told a state agency it will close a railcar manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas, for an undetermined period of at least six months, and furlough 158 workers until demand returns for new freight-hauling cars.
In a notice filed last week to the Texas Workforce Commission under the plant-closing law known as the WARN Act (for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification), the company said its Trinity North American Freight Car plant “will be idled and cease operations” as of Oct. 20.
Dallas-based Trinity is North America’s largest railcar builder, and like other suppliers has been hit hard by the sharp drop in freight traffic in the past year, which led railroads, leasing companies and shippers to idle many pieces of equipment already in their fleets and stop ordering most new cars.
While the closure of the Fort Worth factory, Trinity said, “is not intended to be permanent, it is unclear when business conditions will improve to the point where the plant will be reopened.”
And the company warned it could decide to close the factory after all.
“Trinity’s intention is to reopen the plant as soon as business conditions warrant,” said plant manager Gary Blevins in a letter supplied by the commission. Yet for now, he wrote, it is “unforeseeable how long the closure will last and it could become permanent. In any case, the plant is expected to remain closed for at least six months.”
He attached a list of workers affected, 82 of whom are welders or related workers, with the rest ranging from machine operators and metal fabricators to foremen, a nurse and the plant manager.
Their separations will take place over 14 days, and Blevins wrote that “employees should have no expectation of recall.”
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