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Published: Wednesday, 9/15/2010

Parts plant drops plans to close, shift to Indiana


NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio - An automotive parts plant that had been scheduled to close and move to Indiana will remain open but doing less and with only about a quarter of its employees, union officials said.

Continental Structural Plastics, which announced last month that it planned to close its North Baltimore plant and move the work to Huntington, Ind., by 2012, will convert the plant to make replacement automobile parts, according to union officials. In the past, the plant has painted primer on car parts.

A spokesman for United Auto Workers Local 1889 said yesterday that union members voted more than 4 to 1 last weekend to approve an extension of their contract with some changes. Job reductions at the plant would be accomplished through a seniority system, with 50 or 60 jobs remaining from the plant's work force of about 210.

Thomas Hilborn, a spokesman for Troy, Mich.-based Continental, did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

Earlier this summer, Jim McLean, Continental's director of manufacturing, told The Blade that the plant needed to find ways to be more competitive, saying that he would seek contract concessions from workers.

In addition, Mr. McLean said an incinerator that reduces emissions at the plant costs about $500,000 a year to operate but is no longer needed.

The company, which had threatened to close the northwest Ohio factory in 2008, said in August that it would move the work to northeastern Indiana by reopening a closed factory and hiring up to

350 employees within the 15 months.

Gov. Ted Strickland and state economic development officials had promised to do what was necessary to keep the plant operating.

Mr. Strickland issued a statement yesterday saying: "I want to commend all those who refused to give up when the chips were down."

- Larry P. Vellequette

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