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Mack Trucks to recall up to 50 workers

December 03, 1996

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

Some laid off Mack Trucks Inc. workers are getting an early holiday present as increased production at the Hagerstown powertrain manufacturing plant is causing the company to recall as many as 50 people to their jobs.

"It's a cyclical business. (Employment) fluctuates with production in the plant," said Mack spokesman John Mies.

Mack employs about 1,200 people.

Mack currently is producing about 112 engines a day at the Hagerstown plant, up from the 101-a-day level it posted in May, Mies said. The lower production in the spring prompted the layoff of 30 workers, most of whom were later rehired as production increased during the summer, he said.

"It totally depends on the market, but right now things look good for us," he said.

Mies said between 45 and 50 laid off workers are in the process of being recalled to meet the needs of increased production and to fill some positions opened by retirement. There is no way of telling how long production will stay strong enough to keep the workers, he said, but added that truck orders are brisk.

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"We're closing the year in a pretty good position," he said.

Currently Mack has an 11.8 percent market share of heavy-duty trucks in North America, placing it third behind Freightliner - at 29 percent - and Navistar - 17.2 percent- said William M. Cooke, an analyst with McDonald & Co. Investments of Cleveland.

Cooke said sales of heavy-duty trucks could fall off by as much as 20 percent from last year to this year and the slump could continue into 1997. But he said Mack has seen a relatively small drop in market share, down from 12.1 percent last year.

"I would say they are holding their own," he said.

James Stewart, president of Local 171 of the United Auto Workers union, would not comment on the recalls, referring all questions to the company.

In September Mack announced it would cut more than 5 percent of its 5,700 jobs worldwide by the end of this year. But Mies said that announcement was unrelated to the latest moves at the Hagerstown plant because it was aimed only at jobs not directly involved with production.

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