MOUNT PLEASANT — CNH Industrial will indefinitely lay off about 150 workers at its local tractor plant on Dec. 1.
Jeff Vassh, president of United Auto Workers Local 180, confirmed the news Friday. He said the company informed workers about 10 days earlier at a regular quarterly meeting.
Vassh said CNH will shut down second-shift tractor assembly as of the layoff date and slow tractor production from 40 a day before the layoffs to 30.
There are currently about 850 production workers, all union employees, at the plant, which makes Case IH Magnum and New Holland 8000 series tractors, Vassh said.
“It’s all market-based,” he said — layoff decisions had nothing to do with the quality of the work or the product, Vassh added. The agricultural equipment industry as a whole is in a slump, also affecting CNH competitor John Deere & Co., for example.
By union contract, the least senior employees will lose jobs, Vassh said, and he expressed regret at the situation.
“Some have been hired as recently as a month or six weeks ago. Some left jobs to come here, and they became our union brothers and sisters,” he said.
However, Vassh pointed out the company, by written agreement, is only obligated to give three days’ notice of layoffs.
“(Notification) four to five weeks ahead of time really helps people … take some proper precautions.”
A company spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment late Friday.
CNH has already slowed tractor production at the tractor plant, 7000 Durand Ave., Vassh said: Last week, assemblers on first shift were on temporary layoff, and this week assemblers on second shift were temporarily laid off.
What will happen in November will depend on the production schedule for that month, he said.
The last major layoff at the tractor plant was announced in February 2012, of 100 employees.
The previous year, the plant was making tractors at a record pace and adding 150 new hires.