Caterpillar could lay off 900 workers amid facility closures

Caterpillar Inc. could layoff nearly 900 employees through closures of two facilities in Texas and Panama and a possible third shutdown of a manufacturing plant in Illinois, in a corporate restructuring that company officials said has been in the works for months.

The closure of the work tools facility in Waco, Texas, and a demonstration center in Panama would affect a total of about 280 full-time and contract jobs. Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail is also “contemplating the closure” of an engine manufacturing facility in LaGrange, Illinois.

“If the decision is finalized, the closure would impact approximately 600 full-time positions in LaGrange related directly to engine manufacturing,” Caterpillar said in a statement. “It would not affect the nonmanufacturing-related jobs on the campus, which include approximately 600 administrative (office) roles, engineering and support roles. Should we move forward with the decision to relocate production, we will work to mitigate the impact on employees, their families and the community.”

Reuters reported the layoffs and facility closures on Friday. A Caterpillar spokeswoman said the closures and corresponding layoffs were announced between Jan. 12 and Feb. 22.

The move comes as Caterpillar seeks to cut costs to boost its profitability and increase margins after a precipitous sales decline from 2012 to 2016. The heavy equipment manufacturer has cut more than $4 billion in costs since 2013, according to Reuters.

Caterpillar’s sales grew 18% in its 2017 fiscal year, marking its first year of growth since 2012. The company has more than 116,000 employees globally.