Vought operators claim new owner might force closure




Posted on August 21, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 21 at 9:16 PM

GRAND PRAIRIE - The parent company of Vought aircraft has confirmed what workers warned of on Monday.

Their concern: that 2,400 jobs at the massive, 314-acre plant in Grand Prairie are in jeopardy if a sale of the facility goes through as planned.

UAW Local 848 members are preparing for the worst. They are petitioning the governor and gathering all their resources to try to block the sale of the Vought aircraft plant, currently owned by Triumph Group.

The plant is being bought by Dallas investor Stuart Jones. Jones told News 8 he has proposed to raise the rent a "modest" amount after the sale.

But union members say Jones plans to at least double the lease amount, which would in turn, effectively force the plant to close.

Kelly Davidson, a seven-year Vought employee said she fears the worst.

"I have a good pay check, a 401K, I've got insurance, and I have no worries with this job," she said. "If this job goes, what am I going to do?"

Kevin Boggess, also a seven-year employee, said losing this job would be devastating to his family.

"I'm almost 53 years old," Boggess said. "I've been in aviation for thirty years. I'd basically be starting over. I'm getting too old for that kind of stuff."

Those fears have now been verified by the parent company, Triumph, which released the following statement Tuesday:

"The potential buyer of the facility, American Brownfields, proposes to more than double Triumph's cost of operating at Jefferson Street (Vought) going forward. Such a dramatic increase in costs would effectively price Triumph out of the facility."

Before the plant can be sold, state environmental officials must sign off. The sale is contingent on a promise by the new owner to clean up a multi-million dollar environmental mess. Sources tell News 8 details on how that will be handled by the new owner have not been worked out.

A spokesman for the new owner said Triumph was going to eliminate up to sixty percent of the work force by 2017, even before the planned sale.

Triumph in its statement says it "wants to avoid disruptions and continue its existing plans of operation."

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com