Delphi investing $15M in local plant

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Delphi Automotive will invest approximately$15 million into its Brookhaven plant to facilitate production ofan upgraded product, the company announced Monday in a pressrelease issued through Gov. Haley Barbour’s office.

    The investment will fund the purchase of new equipment andimprovements of the plant’s current capabilities with the aim ofmanufacturing new versions of the circuit boards the plantproduces.

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    A redesign of the plant’s layout is possible as part of theimprovements, said Chris Godbolt, shop chairman of the IUE-CWALocal 718 union.

    “We look for a busy fall,” Godbolt said.

    Godbolt expressed excitement about the investment’sramifications.

    “The local union feels like it is great not only for the plant, butfor the community also,” Godbolt said. “It looks like we have agreat future.”

    Barbour echoed Godbolt’s sentiments.

    “The company’s decision to further invest in its Brookhaven plantis great news for southwest Mississippi,” Barbour said in a pressrelease.

    Mayor Les Bumgarner explained the importance of the Delphi plant tothe area.

    “The name of the economy is jobs,” Bumgarner said. “Anyone thatprovides 250-plus jobs is extremely important to the Brookhaveneconomy.”

    Bumgarner said his main goal in regard to Delphi has been to retainthose jobs, and the investment is “over and above what weexpected.” Referring to previous rumors of a plant shutdownBumgarner stated that the loss of those jobs would have been veryhard on the city’s economy.

    Fears of a plant shutdown circulated during thesometimes-contentious negotiation between Delphi and union leadersof a labor contract set to expire Oct. 12.

    Union members approved a new contract July 5, and union leadersreceived word Aug. 10 of the company’s ratification of theagreement. Of the plant’s approximately 250 jobs, 140 are unionmembers.

    Local and state economic leaders have been involved in talks withDelphi since last year to secure the investment.

    The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce began workingwith Delphi in September 2010 to make the Brookhaven facility asattractive as possible for a new General Motors (GM) contract, saidCliff Brumfield, the chamber’s executive vice president. TheMississippi Development Authority and Entergy also became involvedat that time to help secure the new contract.

    The Brookhaven plant manufactures circuit boards that are the”brain box” for GM’s full size truck line, Brumfield said.

    “People don’t realize if you pull up next to a full size GM truckin the U.S., an integral part of that vehicle was manufactured inBrookhaven,” Brumfield said.

    The efforts of Brumfield and state leaders were successful in thelate fall of 2010 when GM awarded a contract to manufacture theupgraded versions of the circuit boards the plant produces,Brumfield said.

    The fact of the manufacturing contract was important duringcontract negotiations.

    “We knew if we could make the right concessions then a significantinvestment could come to the plant,” Godbolt said. “The people inthe plant wanted the company to make that investment. Compromiseshad to be made. The membership understood that, but they wantedsome kind of security.”

    Godbolt emphasized that both union leaders and Delphi managementwanted to keep the Brookhaven plant in operation.

    Brumfield stated that while there was no official statement of apossible shutdown, a failure of contract negotiations would havejeopardized the new contract.

    With a new contract and announcement of the investment, plantequipment that was crated up in June, reportedly for shipment toMexico, has now been returned to the plant floor.

    Delphi has also introduced 10 temporary employees to prepare theplant for its imminent upgrades, according to Godbolt.

    Brookhaven’s Delphi plant has been in operation since 1977. Delphioperates five manufacturing plants in the United States, andBrookhaven’s plant is only the plant in the South. One is inIndiana and three are in Ohio. Delphi formerly operated a plant inClinton, but shut it down in February of 2010.