Federal-Mogul Corporation (USA) continues cutting back the workforce at its engine bearing manufacturing plant in Blacksburg, Virginia.
In the past few months, 50 more hourly workers have been cut from the payroll there as U.S. auto industry troubles continues to ripple through Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier ranks.
Opened in 1971, the vertically integrated Blacksburg operation manufactures high-volume engine bearings, bushings and washers for automotive and industrial applications. Markets are both OEM and aftermarket.
The factory complex covers 250,000 square feet on 50+ acres south of town.
Until 2006, the plant manufactured engine bearings. But in 2007, some manufacturing operations were moved to Blacksburg from the now-shuttered factory in St. Johns, Michigan. The move added bushings and washers to the product mix, part of a $12 million investment that was to have added 71 jobs.
A year ago, Blacksburg workers went on strike over wage issues. In 2005, when F-M was in bankruptcy, IAMAQ Local 2533 had signed a four-year, zero-increase contract -- but with an option to reopen wage negotiations after three years. In 2007, F-M was out of bankruptcy and the union exercised that three-year wage option. But a strike was called when no agreement could be reached. After a three-day strike, a new wage package emerged, raising 2005's frozen $16.06 hourly rate to $16.48 immediately, and to $16.90 in April 2009.
After these last 50 layoffs, F-M did not detail how many workers remain at Blacksburg, but eBearing has been told best estimates put employment there at just over 200, from 320 in 2008. As recently as 2004, Blacksburg employed well over 400, and at its peak the facility employed nearly 700.