When 52% of union voters rejected a new contract with New Process Gear plant owner Magna Powertrain last week, that sealed the fate of its 1,400 employees. Magna said the plant would close. "Sadly, this is a final decision," said Magna Spokesman Tony D'Angelo last Wednesday.
But, that decision may not be so final after all. The Treasury Department agreed, last week, to put together $5 billion in taxpayer-funded loans for the U.S. auto parts industry, and Senator Chuck Schumer is working to create a last-minute aid package that could potentially keep the plant in business. "We had been very worried the door was closed and there was nothing that could be done to save New Process Gear," said Schumer. "Now the fact that this grant might help and the fact that it's flexible at the most, meaning they haven't worked out the details might help us. Might, I underline."
The new supplier support program will draw money from the Treasury's bailout fund, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Senator Schumer says a potential piece of the $5 billion aid package isn't a sure thing, but at this point, any hope is better than no hope at all. "I would not go overboard here, I would not say this means the plant is saved," Schumer said. "It means the door is open."
DeWitt council member, Lorene McCoy-Dadey, says a closure would have a ripple effect on the town, from its school systems to taxes to real estate. With the lines of communication back open again, she says it's given new hope to the remaining NPG workers. "Now they are becoming focused, they are looking at more optimism in their future," said McCoy-Dadey. "It's not a dead run anymore. Everyone is brightened by it."