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Eviction controversy between City of Tulsa, local bus maker

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 22:50:52-04

TULSA, Okla. — An online campaign claims the city of Tulsa is threatening to evict IC Bus of Oklahoma from their facilities.

A claim the city said is false as they’re currently negotiating new terms.

A contract is up for renewal between the city of Tulsa and Navistar, the company that owns the IC bus plant.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said before anyone signs on the doted line, the company is expected to properly maintain the facility which he said they haven’t done.

“We’re talking about structural integrity of that building and millions of dollars in maintenance needs there," Bynum said.

The company launched an online campaign, which claims the city is threatening the bus company with a lease termination, effective in February, and demanding the plant make several upgrades and replacements to the facility.

Since then, negotiations have been underway.

“The whole coalition around “Save Tulsa Jobs” is so that folks can say, ‘Hey, we matter.’ This is a great large working family and that’s easy for me to say that and we live it every day," said Plant Manager Rodney Tharp.

Tharp mirrors Mayor Bynum and said safety is an important part of keeping up the maintenance of the facility.

“We take exception to the sentiment that this is not a safe place to work," Tharp said. "We are above industry standards on OSHA type of safety rules and regulations. We hold it as a pillars, as one of our five pillars and the first one is safety.”

He also said they’ve made big investments in caring for the facility.

“Over the last few years, we’ve been able to have capital improvements where we’ve covered 70% of the roof," Tharp said. "It continues to be part of our plan every year to get sections of the roof repaired.”

Mayor Bynum said he doesn’t want to evict IC bus plant, but wants to find a solution to problem.

“What we said was, rather than continue a lease which appears problematic on your end, lets renegotiate a lease where we can have specific maintenance benchmarks moving forward," Bynum said.

Both the mayor and Tharp want to reach an agreement that keeps the plant in Tulsa.

“We want our families to continue to work in Tulsa, building jobs just like we’ve done for the last 20 years," Tharp said. "That’s what these folks want. That’s what we want and we hope we can get there real quick.”

“We want those jobs here in Tulsa. We want Navistar to be successful here in Tulsa. We also want a building that is safe for the long-term for them to be successful in," Bynum said.

The mayor said the city of Tulsa is set to meet with Navistar Thursday to discuss the new lease agreement.

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