By Boris Ladwig, The Republic

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An auto parts manufacturer with about 500 employees will close its plant on 17th Street unless union members agree to a 5 percent pay cut and other concessions, a union official said.

Columbus Components Group, which operates a former Arvin plant, on Monday sent a letter to employees warning of a potential plant shutdown beginning March 1.

The plant stamps parts for automotive companies, including EMCON Technologies, TRW Automotive and Cummins Inc.

Jerry Wagner, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1424, said the recession and resulting slow auto sales have affected suppliers, including CCG.

Until now, CCH has lowered its costs through 1- to 2-month voluntary and forced layoffs of about 60 people.

"It's not really enough right now," Wagner said. "It's sad to say, but it's reality."

In the letter, CCG President Richard Holmes wrote, "Out of an abundance of precaution, and due to unexpected and unforeseeable recent business events, CCG is providing this contingent notice of the possibility of the closing of the facility.

Unless negotiations with the union produce an agreement that will allow the plant to stay open, "the facility may close as early as the two-week period beginning on March 1 ... (and) this plant closing will be permanent."

Wagner said the company is asking union members to agree to a 5 percent pay cut, which would reduce the lowest hourly wage to $13.35.

Employees also would lose their 401(k) match this year and see some health benefit changes, which, Wagner said, would be revealed later this week.

ArvinMeritor sold the plant in late 2004 to three Cleveland-based investors.

Wagner said about 20 percent of the employees had been hired after the sale. Most of the rest have worked there 20 to 30 years.

Wagner, a Brown County native who lives in Jennings County, has worked there 35 years.

Wagner said that union members are expected to vote on the proposal Monday.

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