GRAND PRAIRIE - The planned sale of one of North Texas' largest plants has thousands of workers concerned they are about to lose their jobs.
Vought Aircraft Industries, which employs an estimated 3,500, has been leasing a 314-acre aircraft manufacturing plant since 1949. The plant is now leased by Triumph, and has made wing parts for Boeing, Gulfstream and some of the largest planes flown by the U.S. military. Four years ago, the U.S. Navy, which leases to the plant to Vought, decided to sell the plant.
UAW Local 848 officials tell News 8 it was bought by a local investor, Stuart Jones, for practically pennies -- $357,000.
Why so little? They say it’s because as part of the transaction, Jones has agreed to spend additional millions (estimated to be approximately $16.8 million) to clean up an environmental mess on site and in nearby Mountain Creek Lake, which would make the total purchase price approximately $17.1 million.
Union officials also say Jones plans on nearly tripling the rent, which would force Triumph to close the plant.
"[Triumph] are in it to make money,” said UAW Local 848 President Romeo Munoz. “If they can't make any money, it's not feasible for them to continue doing work out there."
Triumph Corporate officials declined to comment on the presumed sale of the plant, which still has to be approved by state environmental officials.
Jones owns a company called American Brownfields, which specializes in environmental remediation.
A spokesman for Jones said Triumph had already planned on cutting up to 60 percent of the workforce by 2017. Jones’ company spokesman said it is seeking only a modest increase in rent.
But Union officials are so convinced their plant will be forced to totally close, they are starting petitions and calling Governor Rick Perry, pleading for his intervention.
"It would be devastating not only to the workers, but to the economy, because there are employees who live all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Munoz said.
Jones' spokesman said Triumph's plans to downsize the plant and its workforce are not related to his purchase of the facility.