James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@heartlandpublications.com
December 13, 2012
Adding to Ashe County’s already shaky economy, United Chemi-Con has confirmed the Lansing plant will lose 142 jobs by April 30.
“It’s heartbreaking to see when a number of employees who have worked for Chemi-Con for years are being laid off,” said Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell when she first heard about the layoffs.
According to Sandra Calhoun, the plant’s human resources manager, the company received the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act through the N.C. Department of Commerce on Dec. 4.
“A WARN notice enables the Division of Workforce Solutions to provide assistance to affected workers and allows workers transition time to seek alternative jobs or enter training programs,” read the N.C. Department of Commerce’s website.
According to the WARN Act notice, job cuts will begin on Feb. 2. Calhoun said the company will retain 115 employees once the job cuts are completed.
“Basically, we (United Chemi-Con) lost one of our lines to Malaysia, so we will be transitioning from two lines to one,” said Calhoun.
United Chemi-Con is subsidiary of the Japanese company Nippon Chemi-Con, and moved to the Lansing plant when it bought Sprague Electric Company in 1992. According to Calhoun, the Lansing plant was significantly impacted by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.
Calhoun said United Chemi-Con also filed for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act through the U.S. Department of Labor in late November.
The TAA allows employees who have been displaced because of foreign competitors to extend their unemployment benefits, health-insurance and training benefits.
In addition to WARN and TAA benefits, local sources have also pledged to help retrain and relocate displaced workers.
“The Chamber of Commerce is ready to work with Wilkes Community College and economic development to do what is necessary to retrain and find new jobs for employees,” said Cabot Hamilton, the executive director of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce.
According to Chris Robinson, Wilkes Community College’s associate vice president of the Ashe campus, WCC also plans to help the United Chemi-Cons displaced workers by retraining employees and holding informative workshops.