Paccar eliminating shifts at two plants

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Paccar Inc. announced Monday, Nov. 27, that it is eliminating one shift each at its Peterbilt Motors Co. plant outside Nashville, Tenn., and its Kenworth Truck Co. plant in Renton, Wash. Both plants will be left with one daily shift because of an expected downturn in demand due to higher costs associated with meeting new federal emissions regulations.

Paccar spokesman Andy Wold declined to give specific staffing and layoff numbers for either plant, but The Tennessean newspaper reported that 667 of 1,200 Peterbilt workers in Madison, Tenn., have been sent layoff notices. Bernie Philips, a business representative with Machinists District Lodge 160, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the reduction at Kenworth’s Renton plant could amount to 160 to 170 workers out of 480 in his bargaining unit alone.

Wold said the average price for trucks will jump between $6,000 and $9,000 in the new year to cover the cost of additional equipment to meet new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations.

The planned layoffs come in a banner year for truck production for Peterbilt and Kenworth. “Peterbilt and its sister division Kenworth in North America are performing exceptionally well, with current market share at record levels above 25 percent,” Wold said. “That’s a full 2 points above the year prior. There’s a lot of reasons why the market is strong in 2006 — the economy is good, our customers are healthy, there’s a lot of freight volumes. And 2007 should be a good year — but lower than 2006.”

Peterbilt laid off about 600 of the Madison plant’s 900 employees following the launch of new emission rules in 2002. Bellevue, Wash.-based Paccar rehired the workers a year later and expanded the Peterbilt plant amid stronger demand.