Dow announces job cuts, closures; local effect unknown

Deidre Cruse

The Dow Chemical Company on Monday announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs and to close 20 facilities worldwide, but there is no word yet on how the cutbacks might affect Dow’s local plant, Iberville Parish’s largest employer and taxpayer.

Because of “poor market conditions,” the company also plans also to reduce its contractor workforce by some 6,000 and by temporarily idling 180 plants in its worldwide operations.

In a news release from Midland, Michigan, Dow said it would announce details of the cuts after the first of the year, leaving local workers in doubt about their prospects for the new year.

Dow employs 1,650 company workers and 1,500 contract employees at the Plaquemine plant, according to Gary Cambre of Dow Public Affairs.

“At this point in time, we don’t have any information about what it will mean here,” Cambre said.

He said he would announce the information as soon as it becomes available.

Dow also has a policy of buying locally wherever possible, so numerous local vendors might also be affected.

The 5,000 employees Dow plans to cut represents 11 percent of its worldwide workforce of 46,000.

Once the cuts are fully implemented, it will save the company $700 million a year in operating costs by 2010. That is in addition to previously announced savings of $800 million, according to Dow’s news release.

The cuts include closing 20 facilities in “high-cost” locations. Cambre said he did not know if the Plaquemine plant fit that definition.

“Transformation, by definition, requires a commitment to working differently,” Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris said. “We are moving from a highly centralized and standardized approach, to operating three very different business models with a lean and efficient corporate center.”