Pension played into Daimler decision

Union officials say pension costs changed Daimler’s decision to close its Portland plant.

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While Daimler Trucks North America credited a military contract as its reason for keeping its Portland plant open, union officials say the company wanted to avoid the $130 million it would have to pay for pensions.

“It sounds like they saw it coming, but they forgot a zero on the end of it,” said pension lawyer Daniel Feinberg, a partner at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson in Oakland, Calif. “The math here is pretty complex stuff.”

Daimler managers have declined to provide more details since Monday, when they said the plant — which they had announced almost a year ago would close — will remain open to make military vehicles and Western Star trucks. Union representatives expect the reversal will save about 650 jobs under a three-year contract to be negotiated.

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