Thursday, July 17, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Evendale Formica will cut 141 jobs

Employees of Formica Corp.'s Evendale plant were told Wednesday that the company will cut 141 jobs, or 20 percent of its work force, by January to bring costs in line with competitors and other Formica plants.

Frank Riddick, CEO of the privately held maker of decorative laminates, gave employees the bad news in a series of meetings on the state of the business.

Riddick, who is part of an investment group trying to bring the decorative laminates maker out of bankruptcy reorganization, said the company is talking with Local 757, International Union of Electrical Workers, about moves to lower costs and reduce the need for forced job cuts.

He said the company is negotiating an early retirement and voluntary severance plan to reduce forced jobs cuts and changes in work rules and other steps to improve the plant's cost structure.

Riddick said Formica calculates the Evendale plant's manufacturing costs are 40 percent higher than its other North American operations.

A spokesman for the union, which represents most of the plant's 650 workers, didn't return a call Wednesday.

Riddick said the company plans to eliminate 21 jobs by the end of this month, another 46 by the end of August and the remaining 74 by the end of January.

Employees have expressed fears the job cuts are a prelude to eventually closing the plant, Formica's oldest. But Riddick said closing "isn't on the table.''

Mike Boyer

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