FOSTORIA, OH (WTOL) - In Fostoria, union representatives were shocked when they learned their plant would soon be closing instead of operating contract negotiations.
When UAW Local 533 reps sat down with Autolite to begin their next contract talks, they were informed the plant would instead be closed.
Currently 56 employees work at Autolite. That's a far cry from the nearly 1,400 employed in 1994.
Many jobs were lost when Autolite moved their assembly to Mexico and later moved more work to South Carolina.
Union reps said the plant, along with all of Fostorias industry, has consistently been hit hard ever since trade tariffs were removed when NAFTA was signed.
"It's pretty evident, Fostoria is a Ghost town and as far as manufacturing it's a very nice place to have a business because of all of the railroads that come through here and stuff. But currently it is pretty empty," said Bob Teeple, President of UAW Local 533.
Teeple said the union is now drafting compensation proposals for the 56 employees, and are working with the State to find displaced worker benefits. They also have 27 current retirees to help as well.
"These people have worked here 26 years, most of them, and this might be the only place they've ever worked. So, to try to go someplace else at this point in their life, if you're above 45 or so, it become a little difficult," said Teeple.
Teeple believes the plant is roughly planned to close next April or May.