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1/8/2018 7:35:00 PM
14 more to be laid off at Carter Fuel Systems in Logansport

Sarah Einselen, Pharos-Tribune News Editor

Another 14 workers are being laid off from Carter Fuel Systems in Logansport, a company spokesman says.

The layoff, though smaller than other cuts the fuel pump maker has sustained in recent years, takes the total number of employees there to 149, according to spokesman Tim Dye. Of those, 100 are hourly workers and the rest are salaried employees, he indicated.

The layoff comes as the facility transitions from making aftermarket fuel pumps to making original equipment, according to Dye and Dan Arnett, president of United Steelworkers Local 4863, the union representing hourly workers at the plant. Arnett said all those laid off were hourly employees.

"This is just the end of the aftermarket business" at Carter Fuel, Arnett explained. "We're now an original equipment facility, so that just finished up the end of the aftermarket and they've adjusted their manpower."

In his nearly 25 years with the plant, Arnett said he'd seen the facility transition to different products several times, but noted the staffing right now is low.

"It's like a ghost town in here," Arnett said Monday.

The layoffs leave the facility with a workforce less than half the size it was a little over two years ago. In September 2015, about 30 percent of the facility's 370 employees were laid off, mostly those in base assembly positions. Another massive layoff in 2017 affected mostly hourly workers, as well.

However, Arnett said that in conversations with management, he's heard some say they're optimistic that this weekend's layoffs will be the last.

"Now that we are doing strictly OE pumps, they're hoping to grow," he said. "They've got a couple different designs of pumps they're working on for different customers."

One, a boat motor fuel pump being designed for Mercury Marine, could be launched this summer, Arnett said. That company makes outboard motors and MerCruiser inboard engines and has more than 4,000 dealers in the United States, according to its website.

"If that happens, then hopefully we can bring some people back," Arnett said. Some upcoming retirements, too, will likely trigger callbacks for others recently laid off, he added, since "we're down to bare bones now."

Carter Fuel is focused now on making what Arnett described as "more of a high-tech or smart pump — we're doing stuff that China doesn't want to attempt." The facility's main product right now, he noted, is a fuel pump with a brushless motor, using technology that has been developed within the last decade.

"Hopefully, knock on wood, we're on the cutting edge — the new generation of pumps. So we're trying to hang on and grow," Arnett said. "We can only go up from here, right?"

He contradicted bleak guesses about the facility's future.

"We're making a high-value product" for the owner, Arnett commented. "As long as we're making him money, I don't see why he would get rid of us."

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