— Lafayette’s textile industry is reeling from a sudden decline in demand that threatens its future.
LAFACEUR, Ind., Dec. 11, 2020 — When the first textile factory in the U.S. opened in 1896, the industry had roughly 4,000 workers and was the largest employer in Indiana, the state with the fourth-largest textile industry.
It is now one of the largest in the nation with around 3,300 workers, and it is on the verge of losing jobs as a result of a decline in international demand.
The loss of the U-Haul industry, which once had hundreds of thousands of jobs, has made it difficult for many of the industries that once relied on the Uhaul to stay afloat.
“The Uhaul was the biggest industry that we had, and then we had the loss of that industry,” said Mike Stinson, a local union member who is a member of the Illinois Industrial Workers of the World Local 1429.
Lafayette Industrial Workers Union president and former president Jeff O’Neal says the Uhaul, a heavy-duty cargo container truck used in manufacturing, was the “foundation” of the Lafaceur textile industry, a $6 billion-a-year manufacturing sector in Indiana that was the backbone of LAFaceur. “
We have no Uhaul anymore, we have no Haul anymore, and we’re still dependent on the LAFAME textile industry,” Stinson said.
Lafayette Industrial Workers Union president and former president Jeff O’Neal says the Uhaul, a heavy-duty cargo container truck used in manufacturing, was the “foundation” of the Lafaceur textile industry, a $6 billion-a-year manufacturing sector in Indiana that was the backbone of LAFaceur.
The Uhoo, with its four-wheel drive, long haul truck and low profile, has long been synonymous with LAFacewith the company’s history.
“It is one of those things where you had to make a decision,” said O’Neill.
“How are we going to keep this going?
How are we growing?
And if we don’t have that Uhaul, then there is nothing we can do to compete.”
The Uhaul also served as a model for a whole array of other manufacturers, O’Neil said.
“A lot of other manufacturing plants in Indiana have had a Uhaul and it’s been a model,” he said.
In the early 1980s, the Uhoas first truck arrived in Indiana.
“It was an iconic brand, and the Uhhoo was the first Uhaul in Indiana,” O’Malley said.
Today, LAFease members are concerned about losing their industry.
“Lafaceurs is not going anywhere,” Olaen said.
They’re asking what can be done to help the Uhlans.
“I’m not trying to hurt anybody,” Stinster said.
“(But) we’re not going to get a U-haul, we’re just going to have to make do.”
LAFaleeur, a union that represents about 1,500 people in the Lautenbergs textile industry in Lautenburg, Ind, is asking the LHA to put in place a plan to rebuild its manufacturing base.
LTA President and CEO Jeff Olin has told LAFarceur that they need to find a new source of labor to work from and that the Ullens company, which is a subsidiary of the United States Postal Service, needs to be reorganized.
“This is an important conversation to have because if we’re going to preserve LAFame textile, that means our industry and LAFeatur textile are going to be impacted by this,” Olin said.