200 workers to lose jobs

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STANDISH (AP) – A southern Maine plant that manufactures sensors for automobiles and consumer products plans to close, putting more than 200 people out of work, the Baldacci administration confirmed Wednesday.

Sensata Technologies told Gov. John Baldacci in a faxed letter Tuesday it plans to close its Standish plant and move its manufacturing operation to the Dominican Republic.

Sensata plans to move its operation during the next 18 months and put the Standish plant up for sale, according to state Rep. Gary Moore, R-Standish, who said he spoke with company officials when he visited the site. Moore said the loss of more than 200 jobs would deal a serious blow to the Standish-area economy.

The Baldacci administration will try to persuade the company to stay in Maine, but has also told employees of programs available to dislocated workers, said Commissioner Jack Cashman of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

“We have reached out to management and employees,” Cashman said.

The administration has also contacted members of Maine’s congressional delegation to start the process for a federal trade adjustment allowance, he said.

Cashman said the company’s disclosure did not come as a complete surprise. When Sensata closed a smaller plant in Caribou three years ago, company officials said they planned to move their operations offshore. It has since announced closings of plants in Michigan and the United Kingdom, said Cashman.

Cashman noted that the company plans to keep a couple dozen product-development employees in Maine when it closes.

“We would like to reach out to someone and talk to them about bringing their production here instead of the Dominican Republic,” said Cashman.

A message left with a company official in Attleboro, Mass., was not immediately returned Wednesday. Sensata Technologies, formerly Texas Instruments Sensors and Controls, earlier this month said it had closed on the acquisition of Honeywell’s First Technology Automotive and Special Products business.

Moore, calling the planned closing in Maine “a stunning blow to the workers in the local area,” asked Baldacci to intervene in an attempt to dissuade Sensata from leaving.

“While the company acknowledges the high caliber of the Standish work force, it shows no inclination to reconsider its decision,” Moore said in a letter to the governor.

AP-ES-01-10-07 1801EST

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