Workers get layoff notices as Caterpillar plans for plant closure

By Erika Wurst For Chronicle Media

Caterpillar, which opened its Aurora plant in 1958, once employed upwards of 7,000 people. The company is working with local government on getting a buyer for the plant.

Layoffs at Montgomery’s Caterpillar plant are expected to begin late this month, according to a recent notice sent to plant employees.

In February, as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, Caterpillar issued a notice to approximately 40 employees notifying them of impending layoffs that will take place from April 26 through May 10, said Caterpillar spokesperson Kate Young.

The remaining 400 employees working inside the plant are expected to be impacted by the plant’s closure over the course of this year.

“We are encouraging impacted employees to apply for open positions at other Caterpillar facilities,” Young said.

The company is also working with local resources to help train laid-off employees and set them up for a successful future outside the Caterpillar plant.

“We are dedicated to supporting employees impacted by this closure and are partnering with local community colleges and state resources to provide trainings, certification and support for future job search and placement opportunities bother internally to Caterpillar and externally,” she said.

According to Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Illinois WARN notice applies to employers with 75 or more full-time employees and requires employers to provide 60 days advance notice of pending plant closures or mass layoffs.

In March 2017, Caterpillar finalized the decision to move machine production out of its Kendall County facility to other facilities in the United States.

Caterpillar, which opened its Aurora plant in 1958, once employed upwards of 7,000 people. Its closure is expected to impact the region in a major way. As a result, local leaders have created a task force to help market and sell the property and bring in jobs and opportunities for residents.

Caterpillar’s closing could result in $465,000 loss in Kendall County property tax revenues plus broader potential losses in sales and income taxes, losses by plant suppliers and possible stresses on the local housing market.

“This represents a significant challenge to our economy and directly impacts the lives of our friends and neighbors,” Congressman Bill Foster said during a 2017 CAT Taskforce meeting. “While this is undoubtedly a challenge in our community, if we face it together we can meet that challenge.”

Young said the plant property continues to be marketed for sale.

“Through our broker, Jones Lange LaSalle, we are currently working with several parties who are interested in purchasing the property,” Young said.

The 10-building, 350-acre site has a rail spur, water tower, on-site wastewater treatment plant, dual transmission line service to building substations around the campus, as well as a helipad.