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Mack to lay off 60

May 25, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Mack Trucks Inc. in August will lay off approximately 60 workers at its Hagerstown powertrain plant because of declining market demand, a company spokesman said Thursday.

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"We're in a very cyclical market and we're experiencing a pretty significant downfall right now," said spokesman John Mies in a telephone interview from Mack's Allentown, Pa., headquarters.

Mies said the layoffs are attributable to the market and not to Mack's proposed partnership with Volvo.

Last month, Volvo and Mack announced a partnership that Mack's president said could bring stability and possibly add jobs in the long run to the Hagerstown plant. That partnership is subject to approval by regulatory agencies.

Earlier this month, Mack President and Chief Executive Officer Michel Gigou urged caution about the market's impact on the local plant.

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Gigou has said an increase in fuel prices, higher interest rates and a national shortage of truck drivers has weakened the North American heavy truck market. He said he expects the market to remain weak for several years.

"Unfortunately, the market is a factor we can't control," Mies said today.

Engine orders through April have declined 40 percent from what they were through April 1999, Mies said.

The engine and transmission manufacturing plant on Pennsylvania Avenue employs 1,426 workers and produces 215 engines and 37 transmissions a day.

The layoffs will take effect Aug. 14, Mies said.

When the plant north of Hagerstown resumes production on Aug. 14, after its annual summer vacation shut down, engine production will drop to 181 engines a day, he said.

Employees at the plant were told about the impending layoffs on May 22, but were not told who specifically would lose their jobs, Mies said.

The local United Auto Workers representative could not be reached for comment.

If the market improves, the furloughed workers could be recalled, Mies said.

The only other Mack plant laying off workers is at Winnsboro, S.C., where 300 workers will be furloughed Aug. 14 because of market conditions, Mies said.

That plant will go from two shifts to one shift as truck manufacturing will drop from 106 heavy trucks a day to 72 trucks a day, Mies said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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