Union Tank Car closes

Company officials join Local 524 members in front of the last tank built at Union Tank Car in East Chicago, Ind. L-524’s Rick Welton (last row at left in blue-plaid jacket) used a wireless transmitter to take this photo.

Local 524 members are out of work

40 YEARS, 400 JOBS. That was the headline of a local newspaper story announcing the May 30th closing of Union Tank Car in East Chicago, Ind.

That’s 400 Boilermaker jobs — all members of Local Lodge 524.

L-524 Pres. Kelly Hounshell, a 27-year employee at the railroad car manufacturer, got word of the plant closing in March. A few months earlier the company cut production in half and laid-off 100 employees.

A company press release cited “a declining market for tank car sales” as the reason for the plant closing. But Hounshell blames the closing on the construction of two new plants in Louisiana and Texas whose workers are not unionized.

Hounshell has been focusing on settling union affairs at the plant before hunting for a new job, but manufacturing jobs are few and far between.

“People are very concerned about their future,” Hounshell said. “Very few have found work.”

In July, Intl. Rep Tony Palmisano and Gary Prochnow, asst. dir. of the Boilermakers’ Industrial Sector Services Dept., secured federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits for Local 524 members. TAA offers extended unemployment insurance payments and training benefits. In some situations, TAA also provides income subsidies for those who get new jobs in similar occupations making less money.

Local 524 was chartered in 1974 to represent the employees of Union Tank Car, formerly known as the Graver Tank & Manufacturing Co. Inc. Prior to that, these workers had been represented by Boilermaker Local 374 (Hammond, Ind.) since 1937.

Anyone with job opportunities for Local 524 members should contact Hounshell at 219-844-1503.

This article includes excerpts from the Post-Tribune. Reprinted with permission.