Imation employees face tough decision

March 31, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

MIDDLEWAY, W.Va. - Some employees at Imation Corp. have to decide whether to accept an early retirement plan or hold out to see if the company is sold and their jobs still exist.

On Monday, Imation announced its decision to sell the metal printing plate manufacturing plant in Middleway. The company plans to close the plant at the end of the year if a buyer cannot be found.

Larry Doris, manager of the Middleway plant, said the company has several prospective buyers.

It's too early to say what jobs would remain if the company were sold, Doris said.

"The objective is to sell the plant as a viable, ongoing manufacturing operation. Part of that transition is a qualified work force to go with the future owner," Doris said. "We want to maximize the potential to retain as many jobs as possible."

The plant operated under the 3M name for 35 years, but in July 1996 began operations as Imation, specializing in computer-related equipment for the printing industry and other fields.


On Monday, Imation announced a plan to use outside companies to manufacture its metal printing plates and continue with color proofing, color management and computer software for the graphic arts market.

Imation will announce what company will do the manufacturing during the second quarter, which runs from April to June.

Jason Thunstrom, public relations manager for the company's headquarters in Oakdale, Minn., said he hopes the manufacturing company and the buyer will be one in the same.

If that is not the case, Thunstrom said, the company will negotiate with a third party to manufacture its product without buying the existing facility.

Workers must decide if they want to take a voluntary separation package or wait and see if the company is purchased. If the company isn't purchased or if it is and their jobs are no longer available, they would lose the early retirement option.

Up to 72 of the plant's 182 employees will be allowed to take part in the plan. Eligible employees have until April 30 to decide if they want to accept the package.

To be eligible, an employee must be over 50 years old. Those employees would receive the same benefits as if they were active employees for up to five years and will receive one weeks' pay for each year worked, up to 26 weeks, Doris said. 

Doris agreed it is a tough decision.

"That's why we're providing the financial counseling - so people can fully understand what their options are," Doris said.

The company is also offering employee assistance and career counseling, Doris said.

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