MILTON — Between 63 and 150 employees of ACF Industries could be laid off if the company is unable to obtain new tank car production orders.
Milton Mayor Ed Nelson announced during Wednesday’s borough council meeting that he received a letter, dated Aug. 14, from ACF Industries President and CEO Michael Farmakis informing the borough of the potential layoffs. The letter noted that it was issued in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
Nelson read parts of the letter during the meeting. It said one-third of ACF’s Local Unit 1928 unionized employees could be laid off “if new orders are not obtained.”
“Although we hope that we will be able to replace the contract for the production of tank cars that is expiring and not experience significant changes to our staffing, it is necessary… to advise you of a potential layoff,” the letter said.
According to Nelson, the letter said “it is expected that the separation will start in or about the 14-day period beginning Oct. 14, and could be followed by additional staff reductions over the course of the ensuing weeks.”
Following the meeting, Nelson said based on other documents he received from the company he is estimating 150 employees could be laid off. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industries website lists 63 as the number of employees to be impacted by layoffs.
“The duration of these layoffs is undetermined because of the uncertainty of available orders for our products to be manufactured at the Milton plant,” Nelson said, while reading from the letter during the meeting. “In all likelihood, they will be six months in duration or possibly longer.”
Nelson read a similar letter from Farmakis at a November 2015 meeting. At that time, an estimated 130 workers were facing the possibility of being laid off as the facility’s contract for producing tank cars was set to expire.
Officials from the company offered few comments in the days following the 2015 announcement.
ACF had a major cutback in 2009, when the company laid off most of its 300 workers.
Union officials confirmed in 2012 that an agreement had been reached for the plant to resume operation in 2013. ACF officials said at that time that over 300 employees would be called back to work at the facility.
Former Gov. Tom Corbett visited Milton in June 2013 and announced that ACF received $483,000 in state funding from the Governor’s Action Team. The funds were used for machinery and equipment purchases, as well as employee training.
ACF Industries has roots in Milton dating back to 1864, according to “Chronicles and Legends of Milton” by George Venios. It was founded as Milton Car Works and owned by Murray, Dougal and Company.
By 1874, the facility employed over 500 individuals. According to Venios’ book, the facility was acquired by the American Car and Foundry Company in 1899.
Wednesday’s council meeting included an Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Public Hearing conducted by SEDA-COG’s Teri Provost.
During the hearing, Provost announced the borough plans to apply for $500,000 from the federal HOME Program of Housing Rehabilitation Funds program.
If the funding is approved approved, Provost said the program in Milton will be managed by SEDA-COG, which will receive 6% of the funds to cover administration costs.
Provost said the funds could be used to either provide energy efficiency upgrades to homes in the borough or to bring homes into code compliance.
According to Provost, homeowners were already solicited to express their interest in participating in the program. As a result, 26 properties have been prequalified and placed on a waiting list to potentially benefit from the program.
She is estimating the funds — if approved — will allow work to be completed at nine of those homes.
At its Oct. 9 meeting, Provost said council will have to approve a formal resolution to apply for the funding. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 5.
Council approved the purchase of two zero-turn mowers to be used in the cemeteries, at a cost to not exceed $15,458. The funds to purchase the mowers will come from the cemetery fund. A motion was also approved to advertise for bid two use zero-turn mowers, with proceeds to be placed in the cemetery fund.
Milton Police Department Chief Curt Zettlemoyer announced his department has been approved to receive $3,075 in federal funding through the Bulletproof Vests Partnership Grant. Zettlemoyer said the funding will cover 50% of the costs necessary to replace six of the department’s bulletproof vests.
He said the vests are due to be replaced this year.
Nelson announced that trick-or-treat hours will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in the borough.