Dow lays off contractors; one plant to close in spring

Deidre Cruse

As of Monday, the Dow Chemical Company laid off most of its 1,500 contract employees until January 5 in cost-cutting move, a Plaquemine plant official confirmed.

“This is as a result of the economic times that we’re in right now,” said Gary Cambre of Dow Public Affairs. “It’s something we’re seeing from many companies across the country.”

The lay-off of all but essential contract employees followed Dow’s announcement last week that the TYRIN Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE) unit at the local site is one of the 20 the international corporation will close this spring. It is one of 28 production units at the Dow site.

The high-density polyethylene slurry operating unit (HDPE) which provides feeder stock for the CPE unit also will be closed.

There is no word so far on how many Dow employees will be affected by the shutdowns.

“I understand that the community wants to know how many employees will be impacted,” said Dow Louisiana Operations Site Director Sharon Cole. “However, the business is still assessing which employees will be in-scope, and we won’t know the employee impact until early January.”

Cambre and which might be transferred to other production units at the local plant.

Dow also will close a hydrocarbon rubber operating unit in Seadrift, Texas.

That unit, like the two local ones to be closed, produce elastomers or elastic produced used in such things as automobile hoses, Cambre said.

“The decision to shut down the three elastomer assets was a Dow business decision,” Dow said in a news release naming the three facilities. “The employees in these operating units have done an excellent job and have made tremendous contributions.

“However, the reality of low profitability, and the need for significant investment to maintain the safety and environmental requirements compared to other opportunities, were the drivers in the decision to close these three operating units.”

The closures are part of Dow’s plans to scale back its operations to save $800 million a year by 2010, the company announced earlier.

Cambre said the two local units will continue in operation through the first quarter of the next year to meet customer needs.

Employees at the units were notified last week.