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Bayer’s downsizing at Institute plant on schedule

Bayer CropScience said the previously announced 220-person workforce reduction at its Institute site is on schedule.

After Bayer CropScience announced in early 2011 that it would shut down its methyl isocyanate production unit at Institute, the company said its employment at the Institute Industrial Park had to be reduced by the end of this year to keep the site competitive and sustainable.

Four employee teams, which the company said "were made up of the individuals who do the work," developed a restructuring plan that "allowed a determination of the number of Bayer CropScience positions required to expertly and safely operate the facility."

It was determined that about 200 Bayer CropScience employees are needed.

Steve Hedrick, Bayer CropScience vice president and head of the site, said in a

prepared statement, "We expect to have approximately 200 Bayer CropScience employees on site at the end of the year."

The company said that during the reorganizing process, the site's major tenant (Union Carbide, a Dow Chemical Co. subsidiary) exercised its option to discontinue direct support by a number of Bayer CropScience employees for its on-site operations, "offering direct employment to these support individuals, most of whom accepted the offer."

Of the 220 positions identified for elimination, about 40 percent of the individuals accepted a voluntary separation offer provided by the company, Bayer CropScience said. "Of the remaining positions, a separation process was implemented in September for groups varying in number and departure dates, depending on site operational needs and the individuals' specific roles. This process will continue through year-end," the company said.

Hedrick said in the prepared statement, "We recognize the difficult situation posed for those individuals leaving our employment, and we are making every effort to proceed in a socially responsible manner. Throughout this process, our highest priority remains the safety of our employees and the community."

Departing employees receive benefits "consistent with the union contract agreement," the company said.

The 460-acre Institute site operates 24 hours a day. It has several tenants. More than 200 acres are available for redevelopment. Bayer continues to seek new tenants.

The company has been especially active in trying to attract an ethane cracker, which would take advantage of the region's natural gas production and create hundreds of jobs.

Hedrick said in the prepared statement, "We believe we have the infrastructure, transportation options, and the talented employee base, both on-site and in the Kanawha

Valley, to meet the requirements of chemical manufacturers seeking the right location to establish successful operations."

The downsizing at Institute is not directly related to Bayer MaterialScience's announcement in March that it will move its polyether and flexible foam technical center from the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston to the company's campus outside of Pittsburgh, Pa.

That decision affects about 30 employees.

It is being undertaken to reduce complexity in the structure of Bayer's polyurethanes business and to realize synergies from consolidating the work with existing research and development facilities on the Pittsburgh campus, the company has said.

Bayer CropScience and Bayer MaterialScience are units of Bayer Group, which is headquartered in Germany.

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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