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National Semiconductor To Close Arlington Plant

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-825456.mp3

Dallas, TX – In a move that surprised employees, National Semiconductor said it's closing its computer chip operation in Arlington. 300 will lose their jobs. KERA's Bill Zeeble has more on how the global economic downturn is again hitting north Texas.

The numbers tell the tale. 3 consecutive losing quarters. Sales down 31 percent from the last quarter, and even more from a year ago. Vice President of Arlington's operation, John Conn, says recent millions pumped into this plant to improve efficiency, weren't enough. The economy's so bad, the equation changed.

National Semiconductor, Texas Vice President, John Conn: Our plant ended up being the plant that could be closed the fastest. It could be closed with the minimum amount of effort. And it would allow the company to realize savings the soonest.

National makes computer chips that mostly go into cell phones. Their products improve sound, pictures, and provide other effects. But worldwide cell phone sales have been way off.

Conn: And it a has trickle down effect. Are you buying as much as you always bought? Same as us.

The Arlington Plant opened in 1985. It employed as many as 12 hundred just a few years back, as the evolving computer chip industry grew. But now, National says it's consolidating operations, and will concentrate on new integrated products, not the single chips made here.

40 customer sales and marketing employees will move to another office. 300, like Tony Juarez, who works on the wafer fabrication floor, will be out of a job. Shut down should take a year and half.

Tony Juarez: I will be here tomorrow until they tell me I need to go. I mean, just sit back and think it over see what I got to do. I mean

Juarez has a 7 year old son. And his wife works outside the home. But in this case, that may not help.

Juarez: As a matter of fact, she works here. So we're both going to be having to look out on the job market. and hopefully something will come up. Got to keep a positive mind frame.

The company will give laid off workers 2 months pay plus a severance package and health and medical benefits, based on their years of service. Juarez, for example, put a dozen years into National. Arlington Mayor Cluck says he'll work with the company to help National's laid off employees find new jobs. The building will go up for sale.

National Semiconductor will also close a Chinese plant that employs 575.

Send E-mail to Bill Zeeble