Corning starts job cuts

In a move that sent repercussions around the world, Corning has begun its much-anticipated series of layoffs. In April, the company had promised to cut thousands of jobs in order to regain profitabili…

In a move that sent repercussions around the world, Corning has begun its much-anticipated series of layoffs. In April, the company had promised to cut thousands of jobs in order to regain profitability. At the beginning of Juner it began with that promise. Corning said it would eliminate 1,500 jobs and offer 600 employees early retirement worldwide. The bad news was heard from Wilmington to China to Puerto Rico, although Wilmington appears to have escaped only slightly scathed. Wilmington will face a short-term plant shutdown and a 10% reduction in the hourly work force. The company said restructuring will include consolidation of its organization, plant closures, elimination of some research and development facilities, cuts in spending on technology and possibly centralizing some administrative functions. The global manufacturer of high-tech materials employs approximately 32,000 workers, to be reduced to 28,000. Corning plants in Wilmington and Concord make optical fibre, the glass strands that transmit telephone calls and Internet data encoded in laser pulses. Tom Nettleman, division vice president and plant manager said the plant will shut down for eight days ay for inventory control purposes. Since autumn 2001, the Wilmington facility has been working to reduce inventory. When workers return, an additional 28 hourly workers – approximately 10% of the hourly work force – will be laid off. These employees would be subject to recall, Nettleman said. These layoffs are not part of the announced cuts. Salaried employees will not be affected by this corporate round of layoffs, Nettleman said. However, those positions are being evaluated, and an announcement on whether there will be additional staff reductions will be made this summer. Some eligible salaried workers are being offered early retirement packages. These are part of the corporation“s announcement that 600 employees would be offered an early retirement package. In April, members of Local 1025 of the American Flint Glass Workers union approved a new four-year contract with Corning. At that time, Carl Millinor, president of Local 1025, said workers approved the contract by a 10-1 margin. IN autumn 2001, the Wilmington Corning plant began laying off workers, citing an inventory surplus coupled with a fall in market demand for its fiber-optic product. In January, union members soundly rejected a Corning proposal to recall some of those laid-off workers based on job classification and not strictly by seniority. Following that vote, the plant shelved plans to recall as many as 250 workers. Those jobs were filled by workers in other Corning plants, including the one in Concord. Corning said it would eliminate 600 positions at the Sullivan Park research facility in upstate New York. It will also close the Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, facility and eliminate 450 jobs there. 250 positions at Corning Frequency Controls operations throughout the US, Germany, Canada and China are also in danger, as are an additional 200 positions across the company“s photonics business. This includes closing an Albuquerque, New Mexico, development center as well as the Photonics Research and Technology Center in Somerset, New Jersey. The company also said it has sold its Appliance Control Group to Jacobson Partners of New York for an undisclosed sum. Company spokesman Daniel Collins said Corning plans to make all its reduction announcements by the end of September. The company said further reductions would take place in corporate staff groups, other support organizations and the telecommunications segment throughout the second and third quarters. Previously, Corning had said it expected to take a pretaxrestructuring charge of about US$ 600 million, spread over the second and third quarters of 2002.