Chowchilla hopes to stem Brake Parts layoffs | The Merced Sun-Star

Chowchilla officials said Friday they have offered economic incentives they hope will persuade Brake Parts Inc., one of the city’s largest private employers, to reject its plan to lay off more than half of its local workforce by this spring.

According to a report updated Friday by the state Economic Development Department, Brake Parts has put in notice that up to 111 permanent layoffs could come by April 19.

The city has worked with the Madera County and California economic development departments to offer incentives to the Illinois-based manufacturer, Chowchilla City Administrator Brian Haddix said. The incentives include a potential Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rate reduction and state tax credits.

“We sincerely believe that we fight for these jobs not just for the community … but for the families who are supported by these jobs,” Haddix said.

A phone message left for Brake Parts plant manager Russell Raymond on Friday was not immediately returned.

The company refurbishes brake parts, and its vice president of global human resources, Randy Clausen, has said it could save money and be more competitive if it moved more of the work to its plant in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Clausen has said the company had no plans to close the Chowchilla plant entirely, a position that Haddix said Brake Parts has assured him remains true.

“Brake Parts is still sticking around. It will still be here,” Haddix said.

Haddix said Brake Parts, with close to 200 workers, is one of the five largest private employers in the city of 17,000 people. Speaking to the Sun-Star in October, Raymond declined to confirm how many people are employed at the Chowchilla plant.

The new layoff notice posted with the state was the company’s third in recent months, but Haddix said it was unclear how many, if any, of the previously announced layoffs went through. In September, Brake Parts said it could lay off up to 107 employees by Nov. 14, 2015; and in late December it said it could lay off up to 43 by Feb. 21. The announcements came through Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification postings published by the state Employment Development Department.

While Haddix believes officials have offered an attractive set of incentives to keep Brake Parts jobs, he said the city is also working to secure new jobs for Chowchilla.

A Dollar Tree store expected to open in the next few months will look to hire 30 full-time workers when it holds a job fair in April, he said. The city, Haddix said, also expects to soon welcome a distribution company and a manufacturing business that would need to hire the sort of workers who could be displaced by layoffs at Brake Parts.

Mayor Waseem Ahmed said the city expects to announce details about the new businesses soon. “In the meantime,” he said in a statement, “we fight for keeping what we have at Brake Parts.”

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