LATEST: Federal Mogul Schofield plant to close - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

LATEST: Federal Mogul Schofield plant to close

By Heather Sawaski

SCHOFIELD (WAOW) -- Leaders with Federal Mogul announce Tuesday the plant in Schofield will close for good early next year, and 220 employees will soon be out of work. Company leaders say it's all thanks to the tough times in the auto industry.

"With the downturn in the automotive market over the last few years," explained Jim Burke, the company's Corporate Communications Director. "We have excess capacity at Federal Mogul and we saw an opportunity to increase our capacity utilization by moving a majority of that work to the Manitowac facility."

The plant makes piston rings for many of the major automotive companies. But by March of 2011, operations will head south to Manitowac and South Bend, Indiana.

Burke said some of the Schofield employees will be asked to stay on with the company, but most will be laid off.

"This decision is no way a reflection on the Schofield community or the skills and commitment of the employees there at the facility," he said. "But we're hoping for a smooth transition to gradually ramp down what we're doing there in Schofield and ramp up the work in Manitowac and South Bend, Indiana."

The announcement comes at a time when many experts are forecasting the end of the economic downturn. Tom Younger with the Job Service Center in Wausau says the central Wisconsin job market is on a slight upswing, but it's a slow process.

"We're fortunate in central Wisconsin to have a highly skilled workforce," he commented. "So when things do pick up again, people who are displaced now will be able to move to other jobs. It's just a matter of those other jobs showing up."

When the work is picked up by the Manitowac plant, it will actually create about 160 jobs there.

Federal Mogul is a global company with dozens of plants across the world, and Schofield is one of the smallest. So leaders say it makes the most sense to transfer the work to larger plants.

Online Reporter: Heather Sawaski

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