The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 2, 2012

ACF, union agreement clears way for plant to reopen

MILTON — A collective bargaining agreement between ACF and the United Steelworkers union that could put 65 to 70 union members on the plant’s seniority list back to work has been reached, according to a union spokesman,

The agreement is “the first step in starting to build some tank cars at the facility in Milton,” said Bob English, a spokesman for United Steelworkers.

English did not know how many of the workers with recall rights were available for work, if the plant reopened, or how many workers the plant operators would want to hire.

The agreement was passed by a margin of better than 2-1, English said.

English also did not know details of plans to reopen the plant or sell the company, just that an agreement had been reached.

“(ACF) felt they needed to get a collective bargaining agreement in place” before proceeding with opening or selling the plant, English said.

James Bowles, president and CEO of ACF, confirmed that an agreement had been reached between the company and the steelworkers, but declined to provide further details about the plant.

“I can confirm that we have reached an agreement, but beyond that I wouldn’t be able to comment,” he said.

Ohio-based investor Dan Slane, CEO of Johnstown Management, said in September that he has been in negotiations to purchase the complex, which is owned by New York-based Icahn Enterprises.

If purchased, the company would focus on manufacturing industrial propane tanks for the natural gas industry, Slane said.

Slane also said he planned to hire about 100 workers.

Slane could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Regardless of who reopens the plant, English said the agreement is an important step.

“It’s really up to them at this point to get the folks back to work,” he said.

ACF Industries shut down operations at its Milton manufacturing plant in February 2009, citing a lack of work. More than 320 workers were furloughed. The plant, which covers several blocks along Route 405, previously made railroad tank cars, most recently to transport ethanol and biodiesel.

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