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Northeast Iowa crane plant closes, 175 jobs lost

Some 175 employees of Terex Cranes here are out of a job as the plant ceased operations Tuesday, marking the end of a manufacturing operation that has been a staple of the community for 75 years.

City Administrator James Bronner said he was notified by company officials of the closing following meetings at the plant Tuesday.

Some 100 unionized manufacturing workers, affiliated with United Auto Workers Local 411, were idled immediately, Bronner said, and another 75 non-union personnel will be phased out gradually.

Longtime Terex executive Dave Stevenson broke the news to Bronner, in compliance with provision of the federal Worker Advance Retraining Notification Act, also known as the WARN Act.

“I asked him if there as anything the city could have done to prevent it,” Bronner said. “He said no, not really. It was the oil prices and the construction industry being down. He said the decision was made at the corporate offices” in Westport, Conn.

“It’s unfortunate these people are losing their jobs, it’s unfortunate for the families affected and we’re going to pull together all available resources and try to assist them in gaining other employment and whatever we can do to help.

“We appreciate Terex and everything they’ve done for the community,” Bronner said. “Their accounting office is staying here, and that’s great.”

“Six months into this job, I didn’t expect this,” said Bronner, former chief financial officer for Black Hawk County, who was hired as city administrator earlier this year.

Ron McInroy, formerly of Waterloo and a UAW regional vice president in Chicago, said it is the union’s understanding some of the Waverly work is being relocated to a company facility in Oklahoma City, Okla. He said the total Terex-UAW membership is about 120 workers, some of whom had been on layoff before Tuesday’s announcement.

Company officials confirmed the move in a news release.

“Terex Cranes has announced it will expand its North American cranes production at its facility in Oklahoma City, allowing the company to maximize its existing manufacturing footprint and better serve customers,” the release said. “As a result, the company will close production of its Rough Terrain Cranes, Truck Cranes and Boom Trucks in Waverly, Iowa, effective July 19, 2016. Production in OKC of the lines formerly built in Waverly is expected to commence in September.” The release noted the company has “multi-millon dollar upgrades at the Terex campus in Oklahoma City” to handle the additional manufacturing.

McInroy said the UAW will help the displaced Waverly workers make sure they receive everything they are contractually entitled to, and with unemployment assistance. Bronner also said all state and local economic development resources will be brought to bear to aid the displaced workers and their families, noting the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Workforce Development has been notified.

According to the company website, the Waverly operation was established in 1941 by brothers Vern and Wilbur Schield. They named their new products after the “Bantam” Rooster and the Schield Bantam product line was born. In 1963 the Koehring products filled in the larger end of the crane and excavator lines, creating a family. In 1987 the company became part of the Terex Corp.

The company manufactures rough terrain cranes, boom trucks and truck cranes, according to its website.

The company had employed 240 people as recently as 2012, having called back workers from a 2009 layoff.

Contributed by The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa