The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 5, 2013

FreightCar America laying off 254 in Danville

Staff and Wire Report
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — FreightCar America Inc. has filed notice with the state of Illinois that it will lay off more than 250 people at its plant in Danville, according to The Associated Press.

The plant is located at 2313 Cannon St.

The Chicago-based rail car manufacturer says in the notice published online by the state it will permanently lay off 254 employees at the plant between April 18 and May 2. Companies are required by law to notify the state of mass layoffs.

Local employees had received letters from the company in early February of a layoff that “anticipates changes and when finalized, could be permanent.

The 250 or so employees, many members of United Auto Workes Local 2419, received the letter through the Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, or WARN. The law requires employers with businesses of 75 or more full-time employees to give 60-day notice pending plant closure or mass layoffs.

The letter said the changes would occur between April 23 and April 29.

Company officials did not respond to calls Tuesday from The Associated Press.

In February, Tom McCarthy, FreightCar’s senior vice president of human resources in Chicago, said the company had not received any orders for new rail cars, which are manufactured at the Danville site.

“The coal market is down, primarily due to the economy and competition from natural gas,” McCarthy said in February, “and it’s impacting the (production) schedule at the Danville site.”

He said the company was seeking new orders for the Danville site.

FreightCar America also announced in late February it would start manufacturing rail cars at an Alabama facility. That site has the capability of manufacturing a variety of rail cars. The company plans to begin production there in July. The plant could employ as many as 400 people by the end of 2014.

In addition to manufacturing rail cars, FreightCar America supplies railcar parts, leases freight cars through its JAIX Leasing Co. subsidiary and provides railcar maintenance and repairs through its FreightCar Rail Services, LLC, subsidiary.

Vicki Haugen of the Vermilion Advantage economic development agency, told The Associated Press the company is among the 25 largest local employers.