TB File Photo
A worker on the job at the Federal-Mogul plant in Van Wert.
TB File Photo A worker on the job at the Federal-Mogul plant in Van Wert.

BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin News Writer

egebert@timesbulletin.com

The economic conditions that have idled workers all over the area have now caused the Federal-Mogul plant in Van Wert to all but eliminate third shift.

Plant Manger Terry Offerle confirmed Friday that beginning Monday, only a skeleton crew will work overnights. In a statement, Offerle said, "By the end of the year, there were approximately 50 employees on layoff status. January saw a continued slide in the rate of incoming orders, and as of today, that number stands at 115. At this level of production, three shifts are no longer required, so effective Monday Feb. 9, we are eliminating all but a small crew on the third shift. Remaining employees will be moving to first and second shift positions."

Plant employees have told The Times Bulletin that two days have been set for plant shutdown - Feb. 13 and Feb. 27.

Offerle stated that currently the Van Wert facility has 458 hourly employees and 65 salary positions, equaling 523 total workers, not including the 115 on layoff status.

The actions at Federal-Mogul, the county's second-largest employer, mirror those of the largest employer in Van Wert County, Eaton Corporation. That plant announced the layoffs of 154 employees in mid-January.

Overall, the jobless situation in the country has continued to escalate. Figures released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor showed the loss of 598,000 jobs in the nation in the month of January alone. The national unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 percent in January, which is the highest level since 1992.

Offerle confirmed that the level of business at the local Federal-Mogul plant remained strong through the first half of 2008, but that it slowed considerably in the last six months of the year. With business slowing further in January, the layoffs became necessary.

"We have no further actions planned at this time," noted Offerle, "However the level of customer orders will ultimately determine if and when additional steps will be necessary."