‘When will it end?’: US factory town plagued by jobs moving abroad | Business

“Unbelievable. Confused and traumatized.”

Just a few of the words of United Steelworkers Local 8-957 president Joe Gouzd describing how he and hundreds of other workers felt after shutting down their 56-year-old pharmaceutical plant in the West Virginia, who sends between 1,500 to 2,000 jobs in India and Australia.

The Viatris plant in Chestnut Ridge, just outside of Morgantown, has been in operation since 1965, providing well -paid jobs in one of America’s poorer states. And the timing of the closure has furious workers.

“This is the last general pharmaceutical manufacturing giant in the US, and executives are offshore our jobs in India for more revenue. What will it do to us if we have another pandemic?” Gouzd said.

It also led to a political spate, which Congress accused of taking no action and workers denounced income before the people.

“When will it end, lose jobs in America? Every politician you hear, part of their political platform is: jobs, home jobs, home building, bringing jobs and manufacturing back to America,” he said. Gouzd.

Offshoring jobs has taken on new political weight since Donald Trump was elected. But his record in office is as poor as those before him.

While the U.S. does not track all jobs lost in offshoring, the labor department counts the number of workers who have petitioned for assistance under a federal law designed to help those affected by the trade.

According to Reuters, during Trump’s four years, the petitions covered 202,151 workers whose jobs moved abroad, which is slightly less than the 209,735 workers covered under Obama.

Biden suggested taxpayer companies that work offshore, but it remains to be seen if he will succeed. Viatris could prove her first big test.

The union is fighting to prevent the plant from closing, asking elected officials to re -promote the plant through the Defense Production Act of 1950. It also criticized elected officials in Congress for ignoring their pleas for with the help of “no other reason than the stakeholder’s return on investment dollars,” said Gouzd, who also worked at the plant for 22 years.

The local branch of the union represents about 900 workers. “Families will be forced to move, likely to sell their homes, and move out of West Virginia. Here we will remove ourselves of 2,000 high -paying jobs in north central West Virginia, taking $ 150m up $ 200m from the local economy from lost revenue. “

Less than a month after Mylan combined with Pfizer’s Upjohn to form Viatris, the company informed the union of its plans to shut down the plant and send the work overseas, as part of a $ 1bn restructuring cost. plan. Mylan reported $ 3.9bn in revenue in 2019, and more than $ 1bn in quarterly revenues prior to the merger. The plant is scheduled to end production on July 31 when most workers will stop, with closure operations planned to end on March 31 next year.

Carla Shultz, 60, has worked at the plant for 13 years and is worried about not being ready to retire, but is too old to go back to college or find another job with comparable wages and benefits.

Through his work, Shultz received chemotherapy tablets for his mother; the same drug could cost his family $ 7,000 a month without benefits for his work. During the pandemic, her mother was caught with the coronavirus and is currently hospitalized, on oxygen, and in need of full-time care.

“It added more stress to our stressful family care situation. I also take care of my three grandchildren, two of whom are of school age. But many of them have come home while in school. was closed because of Covid, ”Shultz said.

“My sister and I take turns caring for my mother. I help the day after I leave work to sleep when I can and then maintain my midnight shift schedule. It’s not easy to maintain, but we do what we have to do for our family. “

Chad McCormick, USW Local 8-957’s registry secretary, has worked at the plant since 2001, but I expect to be forced to find a lower-paying job to stay in the area, where his family has lived for decades.

“I have been here for over 20 years. I got married, had three children, and built a house, ”McCormick said. “It’s just so devastating, and more people than I expected are now looking to move.”

The West Virginia legislature passed a bill calling on governors Jim Justice and Joe Biden to save jobs. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Marco Rubio introduced the Supply Chain Review Act to conduct a study on American over-reliance on foreign countries in the pharmaceutical industry, but neither West Virginia senator has been- sponsor the bill.

According to Gouzd, Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito ignored efforts to work with Biden officials to save the plant, and Democrat Joe Manchin, whose daughter served as Mylan’s chief executive until he retired in 2020, also ignored their requests to get involved and help.

Viatris cited the plant closure as part of a global restructuring initiative, and said it was investigating alternatives outside the company’s network.

“The termination of the manufacturing operation in Morgantown was a decision not taken seriously by the company and does not in any way reflect our true appreciation of the commitment and work ethic of employees at Chestnut Ridge,” it said.

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