Momentive Performance Materials plans to cut the base pay for hourly workers at its Waterford plant by 25 percent or more and will furlough 225 employees for as long as two weeks.
Company officials announced the pay cuts Tuesday, according to Dominick Patrignani, president of IUE-CWA Local 359, which represents 620 workers at the former GE Silicones plant. Patrignani called the pay cuts “unbelievable,” and he said union members are devastated.
“This is corporate greed at its finest,” Patrignani said this morning. “The management team at the plant was asked if they will take a pay cut along with us. They said no in front of the whole membership. They feel they are highly valued people. Obviously the highly skilled work force is not valued.”
Momentive officials said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the company is restructuring its manufacturing jobs and realigning wages to avoid layoffs for hourly employees in Waterford. The restructuring will “enable it to be more competitive in the global market and address the economic recession.”
The company plans to restructure jobs and reduce costs in its primary manufacturing areas by reducing overtime, aligning its wages to local labor market rates and creating a wider range of pay levels, the statement said.
The company said it is also furloughing about 225 hourly employees because of reduced customer demand. The furloughs started last week when employees were sent home for a minimum of two days, with some on furlough status for up to two weeks, depending upon the manufacturing area.
The company blamed the temporary layoffs on the weakening economy, especially in the automotive, residential construction, textiles and furniture industries.
Current base pay for hourly production employees ranges from $50,000 to $65,000 annually, the company said. Under the new pay structure, it will be $30,000 to $70,000. Momentive officials said the company intends to continue paying wages that are above the average for comparable jobs in the community.
Under the revised structure, the company claims, the wages of more than 200 employees will remain unchanged, while about 400 jobs will decrease in base pay by an average of 25 percent and about 20 employees will receive an average increase in pay of 9 percent.
Patrignani said the union will challenge the pay cuts through the grievance process.
The news comes just a couple of months after the company announced that it planned to eliminate 49 jobs and outsource its warehouse and plant services. The company is going ahead with the outsourcing but said it no longer plans to eliminate the 49 positions.
Patrignani said the pay cuts indicate that Momentive officials never intended to bargain in good faith.
“These are highly trained, highly skilled people,” Patrignani said. “The jewel of this business has been the people who make the products. This is corporate greed at its finest right from the CEO down.”
Momentive emerged out of the 2006 sale of GE Advanced Materials to Apollo Management LP. It is planning to build a $65 million technology center and move its headquarters to a new $16 million building in Rensselaer County. Company officials said Momentive’s employees in Waterford account for about 20 percent of the company’s global work force, which spans 35 countries.
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Categories: Schenectady County