Dow Chemical to slash 5,000 jobs

December 8, 2008 5:58:29 PM PST
Another painful consequence of the recession hit close to home on Monday. Dow Chemical is announcing it will lay off 5,000 employees and close 20 plants worldwide. Hundreds of workers at the company's plant in Pittsburg are on edge, wondering how they will be affected.

Workers are in limbo, they've heard that Dow is laying off 5,000 people, but the company is not saying where in the world those layoffs will happen. There are 330 Dow workers at the plant, and about 125 contract employees - who won't know if the budget ax will fall on them.

The Dow facility in Pittsburg makes chemicals for crops - it makes latex, and as of Monday morning, Dow, like so many companies these days, makes a lot of people nervous.

"It kind of leaves us uncertain. It's scary, the economy in general is scary right now," said Francesca Johnson, Dow employee.

A Dow spokesman says there is a reason the company announced the layoffs and plant closures in two parts. It first wanted the financial markets to be aware that it is speeding up what Dow calls this transformational strategy, which is projected to save the company $700 million by 2010.

Now that the markets know the generalities, workers will learn the specifics.

"Legally we must notify a number of union workers, works council workers in Europe and other places. We are required by law to let them know whether they are affected before we can make any kind of announcement to the public," said Randy Fischback, Dow spokesperson.

Dow also says it will temporarily idle 180 plants and reduce its contractor workforce by 6,000.

Nathan Leiser works for Petro Chem, which does insulation and scaffolding for Dow in Pittsburg.

"Yeah in a way it makes you nervous, it makes everybody nervous. You must hope they continue to give us work," said Leiser.

Keep in mind this is a facility and there are 10 plants in this facility - so if a plant or two would be shut down, some people would be working and some would lose their jobs, but right now nobody is sure if and when those cuts will come.