GENCORP TO CUT 150 WORKERS AT ARK. PLANT

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GenCorp Inc. is cutting 150 positions at its Evansville, Ind., plant as the firm moves refrigerator gasket production to its Fort Smith, Ark., facility.

Only 50 workers will remain at Evansville to splice thermoplastic elastomer refrigerator gaskets for customer Whirlpool Corp.

The move is part of Fairlawn, Ohio-based GenCorp's consolidation of its plastic extrusion business into Fort Smith — announced in November — and should be completed in summer, according to a company spokeswoman.

The consolidation also includes moving Evansville's plastic compounding and auto parts production to Fort Smith.

Roy Pointer, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 730, said 40 salaried employees at Evansville will be laid off June 1, and 110 union workers will lose their jobs on a yet-to-be-determined date. So far, no members of Local 730, which represents about 150 employees, have been let go, Pointer said.

Before the move, Fort Smith employed 95. The unit probably will add positions because of the consolidation, although not as many as the 150 eliminated at Evansville, the spokeswoman said.

Sales and profit for the plastic extrusions business — which GenCorp reports as part of its automotive segment — had fallen because of lower volumes and competitive pricing in the refrigerator gasket sector.

``Continuing business as usual is not the answer,'' Jack Faulkner, operations manager for GenCorp's plastic extrusion business, said previously.

GenCorp chose to consolidate at Fort Smith because the facility is nearly 60 years younger than the Evansville factory, and the company owns the Arkansas operation. GenCorp has leased the Evansville plant since 1960.

The Fort Smith facility also sits on 10 acres, providing room for future expansions.

The company wouldn't disclose the cost of the move.

Pointer said the union has filed a grievance against GenCorp, asking it to retain all of the workers. Local 730 will take the case to court if it has to, he said.