Schneider Electric strike

Schneider Electric Strike Schneider Electric Square D employees strike in October of 2014 over a proposed labor contract.

Kelly Lafferty Gerber | Kokomo Tribune

PERU - Schneider Electric announced Friday it is closing its Square D facility in Peru and moving all production to facilities outside the state.

The company, which is one of the largest employers in Miami County, currently employs 306 workers at its plant at 252 N. Tippecanoe St., according to a company spokesperson.

The company said in a release it plans to transfer all production to its Schneider Electric’s facility in Texas, and one other East Coast plant yet to be determined. Some production will also be shifted to the company's plant in Monterrey, Mexico.

The transfer will result in the closure and sale of the Peru facility, which manufactures switchgear and switchboard apparatus. All transitions are expected to be completed by the end of the 2019.

The company said the closure is in "response to competitive market dynamics and to meet the needs of Schneider Electric’s customers."

The move comes after major layoffs at the plant over the last two years.

The company first announced its plans for layoffs in 2016, when it said it would move some of its production lines to its facilities in Texas and South Carolina “to enhance the company’s competitive position to meet the needs of its customers.”

In 2017, around 70 workers were terminated, followed by 61 more employees in 2018. The layoffs marked a 25-percent reduction in the workforce at the Peru plant.

Employees at the facility are represented by Local 2069 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

In 2014, employees went on a two-week strike during contract bargaining between the company and the union, which claimed the company didn’t offer high enough pay raises for entry-level employees. The initial offer also froze pension benefits.

The strike ended after the union officials said they felt they won improvements in key areas in the new three-year contract.

In addition to a signing bonus of $1,600, the deal also included a general wage increase of 3-percent in the first year, and then a 2-percent increase in both the second and third years.

Friday's announcement comes on the heels of other high-profile closures in Peru, including the Kmart, which is set to permanently close in March. The store isn't a large employer, but provided one of the largest shopping options in the city.

Shopper Value Foods, which was one of the major grocery stores options in the city, also permanently closed last month.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.