By J.W. JOHNSON JR.
About 150 workers at Sistersville's Momentive Performance Materials plant will be temporarily laid off later this month, officials said this week.
Citing a reduction in customer demand and a weak economy, the company will lay off workers for a two week period beginning Nov. 12 and ending Nov. 25, with workers returning to the job Nov. 26. According to John Scharf, spokesperson for Momentive Performance Materials Inc., temporary layoffs due to reduced demand are commonplace in manufacturing.
"There are slow downs like this at various times, where we don't receive many orders as other times of the year," he said. "The last time we had a layoff like this was 1975, but it was a different company back then."
Momentive employs 410 salaried and hourly workers at the plant, which produces silicon-based products that are then used by various industries, including automotive, health care and electronics. Scharf said demand is low from some of the largest users of Momentive's products, mainly in automotive, residential construction, textiles and furniture.
"We're always looking at what we can do and evaluating our business conditions to remain competitive, and that is a key component of any effective business plan," he said.
Scharf said a number of factors determined which workers would be laid off, starting with the mandated safety and compliance standards. Additionally, the company's agreement with the worker's union, as well as what areas the decreased demand effect most, are taken into consideration, Scharf said.
Some systems at the plant will continue to work during the layoff period, while others will be idled. Scharf said special benefits will be made available to assist employees affected by the layoff, including income extension aid as well as government-provided unemployment funds and continued medical and dental benefits for employees and their dependents. Scharf said as of now, Momentive is not considering making more permanent layoffs.