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Letter Indicates Aurora Casket Jobs Destined For Mexico

Posted On September 01, 2016

By Mike Perleberg

aurora-casket-company-building-09012016

The facade of a former Aurora Casket Company warehouse in downtown Aurora. Photo by nycscout/flickr.

(Aurora, Ind.) – Are jobs in Aurora headed for Mexico? Unfortunately for some southeast Indiana employees, that appears to be the case.

Executives at Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions have yet to respond to Eagle Country 99.3’s request for comment after a notice was issued by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development last week hinting that layoffs are coming to the Aurora Casket plant in Aurora.

On Wednesday, funeral trade publication Connecting Directors posted a copy of a letter sent by Matthews Aurora president Thomas Pontone to customers. It stated that production of all 20-gauge, non-gasketed caskets will be consolidated to the company’s factory in Monterrey, Mexico “to optimize our manufacturing operations.”

“When the new Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions was formed nearly a year ago, we promised that we would deliver the best products in the industry and improve our product line by combining the best features and products from both companies. We identified the best features by asking customers for feedback and preferences, and we are not in the process of implementing these improved designs into the products that you offer to your families,” Pontone said.

Pontone’s letter further indicated that the company will continue to produce some caskets in Aurora as well as Richmond, Indiana; York, Pennsylvania; and St. Laurent, Canada.

It remains unclear exactly how many layoffs may take place in Aurora. Employees at Aurora have told Eagle Country 99.3 that there are worries the plant could have a full shift of workers slashed, accounting for approximately 70 to 80 people.

Companies laying off a large number of workers are often required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 to provide at least 60 days notice to workers and the state’s dislocated worker unit when a plant closing or mass layoffs are expected. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development posts companies’ WARN notices on its website, but as of Thursday morning there is no notice listed for Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions.

A current Aurora employee stated this week that the southeast Indiana plant is producing about 350 units per day, down from about 430 units a year ago. The employee cited a lower demand for caskets due to the rising popularity of cremations.

This news is the latest blow for southeast Indiana’s once-great casket manufacturing industry. Batesville Casket Company laid off about 100 employees in 2012 as it shifted local production to Mexico.

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