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Trinity Industries Inc. is laying off 18 workers at its Lackawanna steel fabrication plant, less than two months after acquiring the operation from Buffalo Specialty Products.

The plant on Lakeshore Road, now called Buffalo Trinity Products, notified workers Thursday of the layoff that's effective today, a union official confirmed.

The cutback amounted to about one-third of the company's hourly work force, leaving 40 people.

"We've never had a layoff like that," said Roland Sanders, president of United Steel Workers Local 9146. "Five or eight people was a big layoff for us."

Trinity, a $2.2 billion steel and industrial products company based in Dallas, bought the company Aug. 25 to expand its presence in the Northeast, spokeswoman Linda Sickles said. The terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed.

Ms. Sickles said she didn't know the cause of the cutback. Other company officials didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Buffalo Specialty was formed in 1983 from part of Bethlehem Steel's operations. Chief among its cold-formed products are highway guardrails and parts for rail cars.

Workers said that the company lost a major rail industry order since Trinity arrived, deepening a business slump.

There was also speculation that the company was trying to cut payroll costs after paying an October raise mandated by the steelworkers' contract. The union workers make an average of $14 an hour under a contract that expires next year, workers said.

Sanders said he hopes the company can recall the laid-off workers and increase orders with help from other parts of the large organization.

"We were slow before they came -- actually it's kind of scary," he said.

Robert Hirschman, a Pennsylvania investor, had owned Buffalo Specialty and served as its chief executive before the Trinity acquisition. He couldn't be reached Thursday.

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