Rexnord Corp. filed a WARN notice with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on December 16, indicating plans to close a ball bearing and roller bearing manufacturing plant in Indianapolis. The Milwaukee-based manufacturer will relocate the operation to Mexico, according to reports, affecting approximately 350 workers, as indicated in the filing.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988 requires employers to announced its intention to layoff workers at least 60 days prior to the date of a plant closing. The purpose is to provide workers with sufficient time to prepare for the change in employment status.
In May 2015 Rexnord told analysts it would reduce its total manufacturing organization by 20-25% over two years, shifting operations to lower-cost locations, and projecting it would save about $30 million annually.
Rexnord manufactures process and motion control products and systems, including several widely known brands of roller bearings, ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, sleeve bearings, and filament bearings. Its December 16 WARN notice made clear the Indianapolis closing would be permanent, and that the layoffs will be conducted in three stages from February 13 to June 2017.
The closing is likely to be more controversial because of parallel events: the Rexnord plant is nearby the Indianapolis plant operated by Carrier Corp., which had been marked for closing until the intervention of President-elect Donald J. Trump. Trump made the Carrier shutdown an issue of his campaign, and then after the election intervened to persuade Carrier to reverse its decision.
In the Rexnord case, Trump called out both the manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union representing workers there, and the local president, for their roles in the job losses.
According to a company announcement on the situation, Rexnord and the union have a “mutual and final agreement” on the layoffs and closing.
The USW local indicated Rexnord will pay laid-off workers $2,000 plus one week of salary for every year of employment. It also will pay ex-employees’ health insurance premiums for six months. Also, each worker will be paid $500 now, and $1,500 if they remain with the company until their date of employment termination.