WATERFORD — Momentive Performance Materials will eliminate 300 of the 1,000 jobs at its Waterford headquarters as the company transitions to a focus on specialty silicones.
The company announced the plan Wednesday, and said there are three parts to it: Investment in production of materials for advanced electronics and other high tech apps; sale of its Consumer Sealants Business; and a two-year transition away from commodity silicones production at the Waterford campus, which dates to 1947 and was formerly GE Silicones.
- The $40 million investment in advanced electronic materials production includes $15 million in Waterford and is intended to let the company better pursue customers in the computer chip industry, and capitalize on growth in sectors including aerospace, 5G communications, automotive electronics and displays. The plan is to bring new capabilities and production online in mid-2021.
- The sale of Consumer Sealants to Henkel involves the familiar tubes of silicone sealant sold to the public at hardware and home-improvement stores under the General Electric brand. Momentive will continue production of consumer products through 2021 under the deal. The sale requires regulatory approval and does not include GE-branded construction sealants — Momentive is retaining ownership of that line.
- The transition of the Waterford campus away from commodity silicone production will take place in 2021 and 2022 after discussions with IUE-CWA, the union that represents 600 employees on site. It is part of the company’s effort to make the facility a global center specializing in advanced silicone technologies.
Momentive said this last piece will drop the company’s workforce from 1,000 to about 700. The talks with the union are not negotiations over the size of the workforce reduction, but about terms and specifics of the transition of union members from old to new jobs.
Company President and CEO Sam Conzone addressed this in a news release Wednesday:
“Although these changes may be difficult in the short-term, we will move through them in a structured manner, showing empathy and support to those affected. Ultimately these changes are necessary to position Momentive as a stronger and more sustainable company.”
The industry has changed in the last 10 years, with basic chemicals becoming more commoditized and customers developing increasingly specialized needs, Momentive said, and the company needs to remain stable and viable amid this change.
The company noted that the Waterford site would remain one of Momentive’s top production facilities after the changes, and would maintain an estimated $150 million annual economic impact on the region.
Momentive also noted that it has invested approximately $100 million in the Waterford site in the past five years.
Seven hundred members of IUE-CWA Locals 81359 and 8130 went on strike at Momentive in Waterford from November 2016 to February 2017, a 100-day walkout that drew widespread attention. Two years later, a group of Korean investors bought MPM Holding Company (and its wholly owned subsidiary, Momentive) in a deal initially valued at $3.1 billion.