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Farm Machinery Manufacturer Announces Wage Freezes

December 3, 1985

RACINE, Wis. (AP) _ A freeze on the wages of almost 10,000 salaried employees has been announced by the J.I. Case Co. and officials of the farm machinery manufacturer say further cost-cutting measures could include plant closings and worker layoffs.

Company spokesman David Brukardt said Monday that some plant closings are planned in 1986 along with worker layoffs, but he didn’t say which plants or how many workers would be affected.

Brukardt said he knew of no target figures for cuts in employees, but said both salaried and hourly employees could face layoffs.

Case President Jerome K. Green said in a statement that ″reducing overall costs by 25 percent over the next four years continues to be a primary objective.″

But Brukardt said that did not necessarily mean a 25 percent reduction in employment.

″Cost reductions come from all areas. We’re finding ways to become more efficient in production″ through robotics and previous plant consolidations, he said.

Case employs about 29,000 people worldwide, including nearly 4,000 in Racine County, Brukardt said.

The subsidiary of Houston-based Tenneco Inc. also has operations in Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Australia, Brazil, France, West Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Case has been losing money since 1979, according to company reports. Tenneco’s 1984 annual report said Case has a pre-tax, pre-interest loss of $105 million.

Charles Schneider, a Tenneco spokesman in Houston, said Monday that Case’s performance improved significantly in the third quarter of 1985. Case officials expect to show a profit in the fourth quarter, he said.

The freeze on salaried workers’ wages worldwide will be effective Jan. 1, l986. It is the third such freeze since 1980, he said. The last freeze began Sept. 1, 1982, and lasted 18 months.

Members of United Auto Workers Local 180 in Wisconsin have had wages frozen since 1983, except for small cost-of-living increases, union Recording Secretary Paul Kielbasa said Monday.

Kielbasa said a 7-cent-an-hour cost-of-living raise went into effect Monday, and union members are to receive a 3 percent wage boost next summer.

In an effort to control inventory, Case plants in Racine were shut down for the first 12 weeks of 1985.

There are no plans for an extended shutdown this winter, Brukardt said, but the production line has been slowed at the tractor plant. Production should remain reduced through early next year, he said.

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