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AUBURN — Eaton Corp. has notified state officials that it intends to permanently close its Auburn operations at 201 Brandon St.

The closure will result in the permanent layoff of 108 employees, Eaton said in a notice filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The entire Eaton Vehicle Division plant in Auburn will be closed, with the shutdown expected to be complete by May 2021, said the letter from Angie Aleem, a human resources manager for Eaton.

“Members of Eaton’s Vehicle Group management team met with Auburn, Indiana, employees on Nov. 5 to inform them that Eaton is considering consolidating its manufacturing operations. There has been a decline in volume for legacy heavy duty transmissions as the market transitions to the Endurant Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies. The Auburn facility produces angle spring clutches for legacy manual and automated heavy duty transmissions,” said a statement provided Tuesday by Cara Klaer
, senior manager of communications for the Eaton Vehicle Group. “It is important to remember that a final decision will not be made until after Eaton’s Vehicle Group and the union have met and discussed the plan.”

Aleem’s letter said she will work with local and state agencies to provide rapid response services to affected employees.

The first employee separation is expected to occur within a two-week window after Feb. 10, 2021, with employees continuing to be separated until the permanent closing, expected in May, Aleem’s letter said.

Affected hourly manufacturing employees are represented by UAW Local 164 as a collective bargaining agent, Aleem said. She said the union has been notified of the intent to close the facility, and bumping rights, apparently for jobs at other Eaton sites, may be available to affected employees.

Salaried employees at the Auburn plant do not have bumping rights and are not represented by a union, Aleem said.

A chart submitted with the notice listed the categories of employees who will be affected by the layoff. The largest category includes 50 jobs described as assembler, followed by 11 shippers, eight material handlers. Other categories include six managers, five supervisors, four technicians, one plant controller, one lead engineer and one plant manager. Several other job categories list between one and three employees.

Eaton has owned the Auburn plant, which produces heavy truck clutches, since 1997. The factory has been producing clutches for decades under previous owners, including Dana Corp. for many years before Eaton acquired it. Approximately 20 years ago, the company reportedly employed 400 to 500 people in Auburn.

U.S. Department of Labor reports show that UAW Local 164 had 377 members in 2003 and 318 as recently as 2011. Membership dropped sharply to 76 in 2012, and the union stood at 98 members on Dec. 31, 2019.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to give 60 days’ advance notice of covered plant closings and mass layoffs. The 1988 law aims to give workers time to prepare for the transition between the jobs they currently hold and new jobs, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

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