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Intermet to close Foundry

RADFORD — “The loss of these manufacturing jobs is tragic. It’s going to cause personal hardships and even foreclosures; it is not a good Christmas present for workers in Radford.” That’s the ominous prediction from Eddie Lowery, sub district director for the United Steelworkers International for Virginia.
Lowery received news of the planned closing of Intermet Corporation’s entire New River Foundry in Radford slated for Dec. 12 by letter from Doug Howell, in the plant’s human resource department. Today the official word from the home office in Fort Worth, Texas remained a terse, cold “No comment.”
Lowery says union records show that at one time, the plant employed 259, and most recently has produced such items as differential cases and brake calipers for the automotive industry. “The layoffs are to be permanent,” he said.
Intermet Corporation announced that it and its domestic subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. It is intended that the filing will allow the company to continue normal operations while it reorganizes its financial and operating structure. The company also named Bob Tamburrino, president and CEO. He replaces Jeff Mihalic, who has resigned but remains in a consulting role.
Intermet has applied to the Bankruptcy Court for, among other things, authority to use its cash collateral to finance its operations and to pay its employees’ wages, salaries and current benefits of its hourly and salaried employees, which should allow it to maintain uninterrupted production for customers, meet its obligations to suppliers and employees, and consolidate parts of its operation while restructuring debt.
Lowery is preparing to begin ‘effects bargaining’ with the company to work out some sort of layoff package for workers. “I hope a buyer comes forward and keeps the place running, but, as of now, I don’t know of any,” Lowery said.
The Radford Foundry is the only Intermet facility using shell molding to manufacture cast-metal components. “After the explosion and deaths in 2000 at the plant, Intermet came back and rebuilt it as one of the safest, most efficient foundries anywhere. We have the lowest man-hour-per-ton ratio to produce steel in the foundry industry,” Lowery said. The explosion, Lowery believes, has nothing to do with the closing.
The company contends the costs necessary to modernize the plant, including substantial investments in new pollution-control technology, would have negatively impacted operating results at the plant. The company paid more three quarter million dollars in fines as a result of the explosion that killed three employees. It is the largest workplace fine in Virginia history.
“This (plant closing) is just another result of the crumbling economy. It’s a travesty what is happening to the middle class,” Lowery said. “All the federal help is going to big corporations. I see nothing to help workers in the state of Virginia. It’s just a travesty”
Local USW 9336 represents the workers who will be losing their jobs.

Staff reporter Nino Sylmar contributed to this report.

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Intermet to close Foundry

RADFORD — “The loss of these manufacturing jobs is tragic. It’s going to cause personal hardships and even foreclosures; it is not a good Christmas present for workers in Radford.” That’s the ominous prediction from Eddie Lowery, sub district director for the United Steelworkers International for Virginia.
Lowery received news of the planned closing of Intermet Corporation’s entire New River Foundry in Radford slated for Dec. 12 by letter from Doug Howell, in the plant’s human resource department. Today the official word from the home office in Fort Worth, Texas remained a terse, cold “No comment.”
Lowery says union records show that at one time, the plant employed 259, and most recently has produced such items as differential cases and brake calipers for the automotive industry. “The layoffs are to be permanent,” he said.
Intermet Corporation announced that it and its domestic subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. It is intended that the filing will allow the company to continue normal operations while it reorganizes its financial and operating structure. The company also named Bob Tamburrino, president and CEO. He replaces Jeff Mihalic, who has resigned but remains in a consulting role.
Intermet has applied to the Bankruptcy Court for, among other things, authority to use its cash collateral to finance its operations and to pay its employees’ wages, salaries and current benefits of its hourly and salaried employees, which should allow it to maintain uninterrupted production for customers, meet its obligations to suppliers and employees, and consolidate parts of its operation while restructuring debt.
Lowery is preparing to begin ‘effects bargaining’ with the company to work out some sort of layoff package for workers. “I hope a buyer comes forward and keeps the place running, but, as of now, I don’t know of any,” Lowery said.
The Radford Foundry is the only Intermet facility using shell molding to manufacture cast-metal components. “After the explosion and deaths in 2000 at the plant, Intermet came back and rebuilt it as one of the safest, most efficient foundries anywhere. We have the lowest man-hour-per-ton ratio to produce steel in the foundry industry,” Lowery said. The explosion, Lowery believes, has nothing to do with the closing.
The company contends the costs necessary to modernize the plant, including substantial investments in new pollution-control technology, would have negatively impacted operating results at the plant. The company paid more three quarter million dollars in fines as a result of the explosion that killed three employees. It is the largest workplace fine in Virginia history.
“This (plant closing) is just another result of the crumbling economy. It’s a travesty what is happening to the middle class,” Lowery said. “All the federal help is going to big corporations. I see nothing to help workers in the state of Virginia. It’s just a travesty”
Local USW 9336 represents the workers who will be losing their jobs.

Staff reporter Nino Sylmar contributed to this report.

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