May 1, 2003
front page
more news
ad information
contact information


Fourth round of layoffs at Vernay Labs this week

Vernay Laboratories’ largest production plant is rounding the bend to closing time with the company’s fourth set of layoffs this week.

Nine production employees were laid off yesterday (Wednesday), all of them from Dayton Street’s Plant 3, which is scheduled to shut down completely by the end of June, the plant manager, Mike Maloy, said Monday.

Vernay president and CEO Tom Allen announced in a letter to shareholders a few weeks ago that the entire production operation is now scheduled to close by the first quarter of 2004, according to union leader Ralph Foster.

Through his assistant, Allen declined to comment for this article, saying he had nothing to add to Maloy’s comments.

Plant 2, the medical manufacturing building, should be shut down by then and all manufacturing employees laid off, Maloy said.

Following April’s layoff, 10 to 15 employees will be let go in May, and another 10 to 15 in June, when Plant 3 will close its doors.

That schedule will leave 30 to 45 people in Plant 2, depending on sales, Maloy said.

The rest of the company’s management and research operations will remain at the East South College Street location, according to company officials’ current predictions.

Since Vernay announced last June its intention to close the Dayton Street plants, 64 employees have been laid off and dozens more have retired early.

The closing and layoff schedules have shifted throughout the last nine months to accommodate the gradual move of the local manufacturing operations to other Vernay facilities in Georgia and South Carolina.

Company officials have said that overproductivity of manufacturing operations and a shifting customer base, as well as desire to facilitate the environmental cleanup of the Dayton Street plant, prompted the company to initiate the action.

Ten employees were originally scheduled to be laid off early in April, based on seniority. But two more senior employees chose to take their retirement, having already put in 30 years with the company, Foster said. And, according to Maloy, one employee died a few weeks ago. That left only nine employees to leave, and only seven of those workers were below retirement age.

Though there were rumors that Plant 2 might remain open for another two to three years, according to Foster, employees have learned to expect short notice on changing plans.

“We knew there would be ups and downs,” he said. “The biggest surprise was the actual announcement of the closure.”

—Lauren Heaton