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While Auto-Parts Maker Shifts Production to West Suburbs, Chicago Employers to Lay Off 1,000

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 7, 2010 7:00PM

Omron Automotive Electrics Inc., is shifting production from its Toronto, Ontario plant to its St. Charles, Illinois plant, taking advantage of both the weaker U.S. dollar and the Illinois plant's proximity to GM and Ford plants. “Both our Canadian and St. Charles facilities have been operating at low capacity, so consolidation into just one made sense,” Omron’s Canada-based human resources director Dawn Hoffman told Crain's. “With the strong dollar here [in Canada], we’ve lost a ton of manufacturing in Canada. It makes it very difficult to produce here for export.” Omron will add 250 jobs to the 300 jobs already at the St. Charles plant. The semi-skilled positions, which are non-union, will pay between $12 and $15 an hour, plus benefits, and Omron plans to use temporary hires to fill the initial gaps in the local workforce. The Japanese-owned auto-parts company makes switches for electric seats and windows for GM and Ford vehicles.

While St. Charles will gain 250 jobs, a dozen Chicago-area business have notified the state that they will be laying off nearly 1,000 workers in coming months. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires employers to give 60 days notice of layoffs.

The job losses include:

  • The Sears Schaumburg Parts Distribution Center, affecting 84 employees, and 86 employees at the Chicago offices on 76th and Cicero;
  • Material Sciences Corp. in Elk Grove Village will close, shedding 87 jobs;
  • Regional Elite Airline Services LLC at Midway Airport will close, costing Chicago 56 jobs;
  • Unilever is closing its marketing operations for its deodorant and hair business products, eliminating 192 positions in the Loop.

Of course, earlier today, it was announced that the nation's unemployment rate jumped to 9.9 percent in April even as 290,000 jobs were added.