Quad-City Die Casting to close in July

After more than a half century in business, Quad-City Die Casting has notified its work force that it will close its doors this summer.

Company spokeswoman Linda Norberg confirmed Monday that operators of the manufacturing plant at 3800 River Drive, Moline, sent out Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification, or WARN, letters Friday to notify employees of the July 12 closing. The action will affect about 100 employees, including members of Local 1174, United Electrical.

Norberg would not discuss the reasons for the closing and said the company had no other comment.

But Tim Curtin, a spokesman for the United Electrical’s national organization, said union leaders were surprised by the letter’s arrival.

“We’re all taken aback by this,” he said, adding that there had been no indication of a decline in business. “Ironically, a few people had been recalled.”

Curtin said Local 1174 represents 40 to 50 hourly current workers as well as 35 to 40 who are on layoff.

Norberg estimated that the company employs about 100 in all. The plant makes aluminum castings for manufacturing clients.

“We had lost work last fall, and there were big layoffs in the winter, but we thought things were starting to pick up,” Curtin said.

“Our first goal … is, if they want to get out of the business, to find another buyer in Moline,” said Curtin, who is based in Chicago. He added that union leaders were working to set up a meeting with management.

Quad-City Die Casting is owned by Drew Debrey, the company president. His father, Andrew Debrey, founded the company in 1949.

The pending shutdown comes about two years after the union workers were locked out for about two months during a contract dispute. The employees returned to work in September 2007 after approving a new contract, which runs through June 2010.

During the contract dispute, union leaders cited the company’s use of temporary workers in skilled positions as a sticking point. The eventual contract limited use of temporary employees and included a 3 percent raise.

Greg Rivara, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Employment Security, said he could not comment specifically on Quad-City Die Casting’s situation; however, he said, it is the state’s practice to put together a “rapid response unit” when employees are displaced by a work force reduction or a plant closing. He said the Illinois Department of Commerce and Opportunity and his agency work with the employer and bargaining units to bring services to affected workers.

The agencies can offer assistance with filing unemployment claims, resume review, career counseling and retraining.

“We would try to find the most convenient way to deliver the services,” he said, explaining that information can be presented to workers at the plant, a union hall or another location.

Separate programs are available to help business “stay in business or to help someone come into the company’s footprint,” Rivara added.

Rick Baker, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Quad-City Chamber of Commerce, said he was not aware of the company’s decision. “You hate to lose good companies like that and for those people to lose their jobs.”

However, he said, the business climate in the Quad-Cities still is good. “I’ve had some very positive conversations with businesses — some planning to expand and other that are healthy. Obviously, their volume is down, but they’re still healthy and working through a slower time.”

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