Layoffs, reorg’s and outsourcing to less expensive labor markets are affecting big rig employees too. [xfloat=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2008_Freightliner_Cascadia_towing_through_the_Rockies.jpg[/xfloat]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Oct. 15, 2008 Freightliner Cascadia – Daimler’s most fuel efficient big rig towing a load in the West and will be built in Mexico. Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced plan‘s to eliminate the Sterling truck brand effective March 2009. As a result of the decision, the St. Thomas, Ontario, plant will cease truck manufacturing operations in March 2009, concurrent with the expiration of the existing agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers. The plant currently manufactures Sterling medium and heavy-duty trucks. The stronger sellers from the former Sterling line will be added Additions to the Freightliner and Western Star product ranges will be made to address market segments that have been served exclusively by Sterling offerings in the DTNA stable. DTNA will also close the Portland, Oregon, Truck Manufacturing plant, in June 2010, when current labor contracts there expire as well. Western Star commercial production will be assigned to the company’s Santiago, Mexico plant, while production of Freightliner-branded military vehicles will take place at one of the company’s facilities in the Carolinas by mid-year 2010. Start of production at DTNA’s new Saltillo, Mexico manufacturing plant will occur as planned in February 2009. The plant will produce Freightliner’s new flagship Cascadia model. An estimated 2300 workers in the St. Thomas and Portland plants will be affected by mid-2010, on timelines related to the plant closures noted above. This figure includes 720 workers at the St. Thomas plant to be laid off in November 2008 as already announced in July. The company also plans to reduce its salaried workforce by approximately 1200 positions, with over half directly related to the Sterling brand. A voluntary separation program will be available as well as other measures to offer flexibility and choice to affected employees. As a result of the measures cited above, DTNA expects to achieve annual earnings improvements of $900 million by 2011.