PACKARD Retiring workers force recall

About 700 workers have retired to take advantage of a $15,000 bonus.
WARREN -- About 220 workers laid off from Delphi Packard Electric Systems in March are back to work as the company copes with continuing retirements.
Packard recalled the workers who were laid off from its North River Road plant, said Terry Gruver, shop chairman of International Union of Electrical Workers Local 717.
Gruver said production volumes are up, but the biggest reason for the recall was another wave of retirements.
Ann Cornell, a Packard spokeswoman, said about 700 workers retired last month to take advantage of a $15,000 retirement incentive provided in the union contract. The next incentive windows will be in 2003.
The retirements leave Packard with less than 5,000 hourly workers in the area.
Reduced orders: The workers being called back were laid off because Packard was struggling with reduced orders from customers. It called the layoffs indefinite. Earlier this year, it also was laying off hundreds of workers for one week at a time to adjust to reduced production schedules.
Those who were laid off indefinitely were hired after May 14, 1997, because those hired before that date cannot be permanently laid off under the union contract. Those hired after that date can be permanently laid off.
Falling numbers: Hourly employment numbers have been falling in recent years as Packard's aging work force retires. It had 8,600 hourly workers in 1995.
As workers have retired, Packard has moved labor-intensive work to Mexico, leaving local plants to handle mostly component-making work.
Packard makes wiring harnesses for vehicles and other related components.

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