View Full Version : October 2008 - Freightliner To Close Portland Plant In 2010

10-14-2008, 04:40 PM
KPTV reports ....

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Freightliner announced Tuesday it will end production at its plant in Portland by 2010.

About 900 workers in Portland will be impacted by the move, which is part of the company's strategy to deal with lower demand.

The Portland plant will close in June 2010, when current labor contracts expire.

Freightliner will also close a plant in Ontario, Canada.

The company will end production of one truck line and will move production of its "Western Star" line to a plant in Mexico. Freightliner's military vehicle production will be moved to the Carolinas.

In all, about 2,300 workers in Canada and Portland will be affected by the mid-2010 change

Not that we didn't see this coming back in early 2007.....


10-14-2008, 07:33 PM
Portland Oregon's News Radio KEX 1190 reports employee reactions....


Freightliner closing Swan Island plant

Nearby businesses worried about economic impact
By Jeff Kirsch and Brad Ford
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
About 1000 local jobs will be lost when DaimlerChrysler shuts its Portland Freightliner plant in Portland in 2010. At the nearby Muchas Gracias mexican restaurant, employee Fernando Garcia worries. "Right now our business is down 50 percent, we're just thinking how much more is it going to go down." Garcia says many of their customers are Freightliner employees, especially in the early morning because they're one of the few nearby restaurants that stays open around the clock. Buses dropped off a steady stream of employees throughout the day so they could be told what their fate is. They had no comment for Kex news other than "we're not saying anything."

10-15-2008, 03:37 PM
This completely sucks.

Dr. Z: "Take a paycut for the company."
Workers: "OK, if it'll help."
Dr. Z: "Thanks"

Dr. Z: "Well, that didn't work. We're closing up shop. Later."


The Oregonian's report on the impact of the announced closure (http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2008/10/shock_and_disbelief_sweep_thro.html).

Shock and disbelief sweep through Daimler plant
by Laura Gunderson, The Oregonian Tuesday October 14, 2008, 9:33 PM

Michael Lloyd, The Oregonian
Roger Wittekind, 55, of Sandy has worked at the former Freightliner plant in North Portland for 36 years. "There's a lot of sadness today in this company," he says.For the company's 900 mechanists, the plant closing's a hard blow

Mike Brinson was surfing the Internet early Tuesday afternoon when he noticed the headline that Daimler planned to close the Portland truck plant where he's worked for 10 years.

"That's how I found out -- about half an hour before I came to work," said the 50-year-old forklift driver.

About noon at Daimler AG's Stuttgart, Germany, headquarters -- or 3 a.m. PDT -- the company announced that by 2010 it would close the Swan Island plant that assembles more than two dozen military and commercial trucks each day.

It was the final blow to some 900 machinists, many of whom had been laid off before -- some repeatedly -- from the plant that had employed many of their fathers or grandfathers.

"You could kind of feel this was coming," Brinson said. "On the other hand, we'd just started picking up some orders again."

Brinson's mix of confusion and disbelief was shared by other workers trickling in about 2:30 p.m. for the night shift. Many first heard the news from spouses or had received calls from union representatives on their commute to North Portland. Yet for the hundreds of employees ending the day shift 15 minutes later -- most who'd heard in meetings or by memo at 6 a.m. -- the shock had turned to anger.

Employees said much of the day's conversation had revolved around worries about finding new jobs, receiving job training or venting that Daimler planned to shift some of their work to a new plant in Mexico.

One employee hollered "Viva la Mexico" from his car window as he screeched out of the company's parking lot. Others simply yelled out the number of years they'd been there: 22 years, 18 years, 30 years.

Roger Wittekind, 55, said he followed his father to the former Freightliner plant 36 years ago. The electrical worker said that he's better off than many and figures he'll be able to safely retire before the June 2010 closure.

"But you look at the young faces driving out of here," he said. "They're not so lucky -- and they all have two or three kids at home to feed.

"We've been saying it all day: This is greed. Flat corporate greed," Wittekind said. "They're going somewhere else where they can pay cheaper wages."

Some employees said they'd agreed to a $2-an-hour pay cut in 2000 in hopes of helping strengthen the company.

Mike McLaren, 46, took the cut even after having been laid off three times in his 14 years with the company. The military battery cable installer said he earns $22.75, near the top end of the hourly pay scale, which he said drops to $14 for those with less time at the company.

Khamphouk "Tommy" Thanasouk, 48, also agreed to the pay cut after a rocky relationship with the company. He was hired in 1987, laid off in 1990 and rehired in 1993, he said, returning at a lower pay scale after losing three years of seniority.

Many employees spoke of similar backgrounds and wavering morale as they'd watched a production work force that once peaked at 3,200 whittled away by two-thirds over the past decade.

"It's sad, very sad," said Thanasouk, who hopes to find some job retraining. "But I wonder how I can get the next job. I'm getting old. Who's going to hire an old man?"

Although the contract doesn't expire until 2010, end-of-the-line foreman Troy Merrill, 45, figures he'll start looking for a job now. He and others doubt Portland's manufacturing market can absorb Daimler's work force.

"I'm mostly in shock," said Merrill, one of the last to pull his car out of the lot about 3:15 p.m. "This is like losing a loved one. I've woken up and done this for 21 years."