BY CASEY MURPHY, cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Carrier Corp. plans to lay off 102 Tyler workers within the next month, continuing with its plans to shutter local operations and move the positions to Mexico, community officials announced Tuesday.

Tyler Economic Development Council Chief Executive Officer and President Tom Mullins said the company sent out a "warn letter" to the city, which is required when more than 50 jobs will be leaving the area and organized labor is involved. Mullins made the announcement during the monthly Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting.

He said almost all of the 102 employees work in manufacturing assembly and will be moved to Monterrey, Mexico, within the next month. He said that will leave about 250 to 300 remaining employees, which will be phased out, most likely by the end of the year.

On Jan. 20, 2012, Carrier officials told employees it could close its Tyler plant by late 2013 or early 2014, eliminating hundreds of jobs with an economic impact into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Carrier has completed the bargaining process with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, and we will move forward with the closure of the Tyler plant," Michelle Caldwell, communications manager for Carrier's residential headquarters in Indianapolis, said in February 2012.

At the time, she said Tyler operations would continue through the end of 2013.

Mullins said then that company officials and union members ag­reed on a severance package that involved some kind of combination of a one-time settlement related to the number of years an employee worked there, and with benefits given for a period of time after they leave Carrier.

"We've known this for almost three years but it is still very frustrating," Mullins said Tuesday of the closure.

He said companies that moved operations 10 to 15 years ago to other countries, including Mexico, China and India, are now coming back to the United States, but much leaner, more technology driven and with less labor intensiveness. Those companies that are moving back reported problems with quality control and delivery while operating in other countries, Mullins said.

And in Northern Mexico, he said, there's the issue of personnel safety. Some American companies are having a hard time recruiting middle and upper management employees to Monterrey facilities because their families are worried about their safety, he said.

Mullins said he believes that, by all indications, Carrier will eventually move all of its manufacturing operations out of the U.S.

He said they have been getting several prospects looking at the Carrier facilities in Tyler, which include the 300,000-square-feet distribution site on Robertson Road and the 500,000-square-feet manufacturing site on Duncan Street. He said they have had several inquiries on both buildings, which have been on the market for a while. Carrier owns the manufacturing facility and leases the other building from an out-of-state company, he added.

Since 1902, Carrier has provided air conditioning, heating and refrigeration systems. A wholly owned subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., Carrier delivers global solutions across the broadest range of heating, cooling and refrigeration applications, according to www.corp.carrier.com.

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