December 12, 2002

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Largest plant will operate for 9 more months—
Vernay Labs to initiate second round of layoffs

The second round of layoffs at Vernay Laboratories will take place next week, according to company officials, who recently notified remaining workers of specific layoff dates for the upcoming year.

The company has also revised its schedule and will close its largest plant next September, nine months later than the original plan. The smaller plant will remain open for the foreseeable future.

Company officials had originally said that Plant 3, the largest facility, would close by the end of the year and that the smaller Plant 2 would remain open until mid-2003.

The plant closings have been pushed back due to concern for production quality, Plant Manager Mike Maloy said in an interview Tuesday.

“We want to make sure our customers don’t feel the effect of an ill-timed move,” Maloy said. Company officials are “very confident” that the layoff dates will proceed as scheduled in the revised plan, he said. “As we proceed we’ll monitor our progress and if we need to make adjustments, we will,” he said.

The company announced the layoff schedule to enable production workers to make plans, said Maloy.

Vernay union representative Ralph Foster said workers have felt frustrated with company management due to a lack of specific information about the exact dates of layoffs.

“We do realize people’s lives are affected and we’re trying to be open” with information, Maloy said.

The company announced in June that it would close its two Dayton Street plants and transfer production facilities currently located there to the company’s plants in Georgia and South Carolina. Company officials decided to close the plants for several reasons, including a shifting customer base, outmoded production techniques at the local plants and costs associated with an upcoming environmental cleanup.

The company’s headquarters and research and development division, which employ about 50 people and are located on South College Street, will continue to be located in Yellow Springs for the foreseeable future, Vernay officials have said.

Next Friday, Dec. 20, 15 production workers will be let go in the company’s second round of layoffs, according to Foster. The employees, who are all hourly production workers, are the lowest in seniority, ranging from 7- to 10-year employees. The layoff announcement came at the end of November, he said.

The first layoff, which involved 25 production employees with the lowest seniority, took place in October.

Currently, the plants employ 124 workers, Foster said. Between 25 and 30 employees have left the company since the June announcement to take early employment, he said.

According to the company’s revised schedule, 15 more workers will be laid off on Jan. 17, 30 on Feb. 28, 15 on June 6 and 15 on Sept. 12, at which point Plant 3 will close. The 35 workers remaining will work in Plant 2, said Foster. Those workers may not necessarily be people who currently work in Plant 2, but will be the employees with the most seniority, he said. They will be retrained to handle Plant 2 work, he said.

Currently, company officials have no specific plans as to when Plant 2 will close, said Maloy.

“There are no plans beyond continuous operation” for Plant 2, said Maloy. He added that the lack of plans for a closing doesn’t necessarily indicate that the plant will stay open, but that company officials have been focusing on closing down Plant 3 instead.

“Once we complete the shutdown of Plant 3 we’ll re-evaluate closing Plant 2,” he said.

Although plant workers have known for months that they will lose their jobs, finding out the specific lay-off dates has been difficult, said Foster.

“You can hear about it all you want, but when you see your name on the board, it’s a shock,” he said.

The company held two meetings this fall during which state and county officials discussed unemployment benefits and job training options, said Foster. Workers may collect 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, which amounts to half a worker’s regular pay, with the possibility of a 13-week extension, said Foster. Employees also have the option to continue receiving insurance coverage for six months, with partial co-pay.


—Diane Chiddister