Layoffs possible at chemical plant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2000

Low plant productivity might cause future layoffs at Honeywell International’s (formerly AlliedSignal’s) Specialty Chemicals plant in Ironton.

Tuesday, January 04, 2000

Low plant productivity might cause future layoffs at Honeywell International’s (formerly AlliedSignal’s) Specialty Chemicals plant in Ironton.

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But officials say they will keep employees informed of the plant’s progress, plant manager Al Cutrone said.

"At this point we don’t have any information," Cutrone said. "We’re going to be working with that information and we hope to have it out to everyone within the first quarter."

Honeywell merged with AlliedSignal this summer.

The then-AlliedSignal-owned plant reduced its workforce by about 40 employees as a result of a sale of the company’s carbon refining business to Reilly Industries in Indianapolis, Ind., leaving only the Specialty Chemicals division.

Currently, the plant has only 13 salaried and 29 hourly positions, Cutrone said.

Eighteen other employees are on layoff with recall rights, he added.

"Ironton’s been struggling for some time and we’re going to try to see if we can turn this trend around," Cutrone said.

An interoffice memo, which circulated to plant employees Dec. 29, informed workers of the possibility of future employment reductions.

The memo assured employees that benefits, outplacement services and other assistance consistent with the severance policies would be available for salaried employees and union employees would receive benefits consistent with the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.

The memo doesn’t mean that job loss is imminent, however, Cutrone said.

"Quite honestly, the reason why it came out was we wanted to be able to keep employees informed," he said. "To remain in this business, we know we’re going to relook at how we’re operating. There will be some changes. We just don’t know when they will be occurring."

Some of those changes could involve business restructuring, but with the current market, employee reduction might be the only option, Cutrone added.

"I know we’re going to have to get our costs in low," he said. "We have competitors who can produce the same product at lower cost. That’s going to be one of our goals – to operate at reduced cost."

One of the Ironton plant’s main problems in its inability to compete is the age of the facility, but Cutrone, who began work Monday as new plant manager, has experience dealing with the unique challenges encountered with older facilities.

And he’s ready to get to work at the Ironton plant to ensure the future of the company in the area.

"I came from the Chesterfield plant in Chesterfield, Va.," Cutrone said. "The facility is a much older plant. So I’ve been in the trenches. New plants have more state-of-the-art facilities and more monies to work with because they’re modern. You don’t have to focus on preventative maintenance with the newer plants."