Barber Steel Foundry to close.

September 19, 2019

Barber Steel Foundry to close.


By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

ROTHBURY – Approximately 75 workers are losing their jobs as the Barber Steel Foundry is slated to close its doors within 60 days.

“Today (Wednesday, Sept. 18), Wabtec announced its intent to close the Barber Steel manufacturing site in Rothbury, Michigan,” states an email message from Deia Campanelli, chief communications officer for Wabtec. “Decisions like this are never easy but will help simplify and optimize the company’s manufacturing footprint in today’s cyclical environment, as well as better position Wabtec for success. The company remains fully committed to all customer commitments and providing impacted employees with resources and benefits to manage the transition.”

Barber Steel is a division of Wabtec, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Rothbury factory, which operated as Kurdziel Iron Industries for decades, has been in existence since the 1930s, an employee said. The foundry makes carriages for freight, transit and passenger trains, he said.

Another employee told OCP that the foundry employs approximately 50 full-time employees and 25 temporary workers. The temporary workers were given notice Wednesday that they no longer have jobs, and the full-time employees were told that they will remain employed for up to 60 more days. “All the temporary workers lost their jobs yesterday,” the employee said Thursday. “The temps made up at least a third of the work force.”

The employees said that severance packages were offered to the full-time workers.

“Most were taken by surprise,” an employee said. “But the full-time employees are ‘happy’ at least with a severance offer, and work still is offered for the short term, leading to them potentially getting paid for the next 60 days.”

“When the production is out, we will be done, so it will be 60 days at the most,” said a full-time employee who has worked at the foundry since 2011.

“I enjoyed working here,” he said. “It was a good company to work for.”

“The whole community is going to be hurt,” he said. “It was a corporate decision that comes down to the red line, and we didn’t cross it. We didn’t meet their profit margin.”

“I don’t like to see it closed. They needed this in this area,” he said.

“Wabtec is a leading supplier of critical components, locomotives, services, signaling and logistics systems and services to the global rail industry,” states its web site.”

This story is copyrighted © 2019, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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