January 30, 2003
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Third round of layoffs set for this week at Vernay

Vernay Laboratories’ third scheduled layoff will take place Friday, Jan. 31, two weeks later than the originally scheduled date of Jan. 17, a company spokesman said.

This week 15 production workers will be laid off, Vernay Plant Manager Mike Maloy said last week. Most of the affected workers have been employed at the plant 10 years or more, Maloy said.

The layoff delay is due to management’s concern over maintaining an efficient production process, Maloy said. “We thought it was in the best interest of the company to make sure the products are moving successfully,” he said.

Last June, the company announced that it would close its two Dayton Street production plants, shifting production to the company’s plants in Georgia and South Carolina. Company officials cited as reasons for the plant closings a shifting customer base, outdated production techniques at the Dayton Street plants and the costs associated with the environmental cleanup planned at the local facility.

The June announcement pinpointed the end of 2002 as the closing date for the company’s largest plant and mid-2003 as the final date for the smaller one.

However, in December officials revised that schedule due to shifting production needs, forecasting that the larger plant would close in September 2003, and the smaller one would remain open for the foreseeable future.

The company’s headquarters and research and design facilities, located on South College Street, will remain in Yellow Springs for the foreseeable future, Vernay President and CEO Tom Allen has said.

The two Vernay plants employed about 175 workers when last year’s announcement was made. Since that time, the 25 workers with the lowest seniority were laid off in October, 15 in December and 25 to 30 took early retirement.

Upcoming layoff dates, which the company announced in December, include 30 workers on Feb. 28, 15 on June 6 and 15 on Sept. 12.

At that point, the remaining 35 workers will work in the smaller Plant 2, union representative Ralph Foster said.

The future layoffs will take place as scheduled, Maloy said last week.

When company management announced the upcoming layoff dates in December, production workers found out for the first time exactly which employees would be laid off at each date. While workers appreciate holding their jobs longer than expected, the changes in layoff dates can have a disorienting effect, Foster said.

“It’s an up and down situation,” he said of the revised layoff dates. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking.”

The overall mood in the plant is one of resignation to the layoffs, Foster said.

“No one wants to lose their job,” he said. “But people are still coming in, doing what they can, doing what they’re told.”


—Diane Chiddister