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Pangborn lays off dozens

February 05, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Workers have been laid off at Pangborn Corp.'s Hagerstown plant, a local union chief confirmed Thursday.

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Laid-off workers said they heard between 45 and 50 employees were affected.

But with Pangborn management remaining mum about the layoffs, the number of workers affected, along with the anticipated length and reason for the furlough, could not be confirmed.

The 95-year-old company, which manufactures machinery that cleans and hardens metals, is among the city's top five private employers, according to Hagerstown Economic Development Coordinator Debbie Everhart.

As of last year, Pangborn had 350 employees, 201 of them members of UAW Local 842, according to the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission's 1998 Business and Industry Directory.

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Doug Stone, president of Local 842 United Auto Workers, said he could confirm some of his union's members were laid off this week.

Stone said UAW policy prevented him from saying how many workers or anything else about the situation.

UAW policy is to refer all questions to the company, he said.

"Of course, we're upset they laid off any of our people," Stone said.

Attempts to talk to company officials by phone and in person on Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday were rebuffed.

President and CEO Steve Pirnat's secretary said Thursday that Pirnat said neither he nor anyone else at the company would be available for comment.

Several workers who were at the plant to pick up their paychecks Thursday afternoon were willing to share what they knew and talk about the effect on their lives.

Workers were told they were laid off effective immediately on Wednesday afternoon, three workers said.

The workers, all UAW members, said they were promised severance pay for Thursday and Friday only.

The promise complies with their union contract mandating at least 48 hours notice of a layoff, they said.

"They basically gave you all they had to," said Douglas Clark Sr., 46, who said he wasn't shocked by the layoffs as many of his co-workers were.

The dwindling hours on his pay stubs - at one time averaging around 55 hours a week, now generally a straight 40 hours - clued him in, said Clark, a foundry worker.

The Sharpsburg resident said he's not worried about getting another job quickly because he has a lot of skills, including certification as a mechanic.

Clark said he's "too intense" to take a break from work and already had talked to someone about a job in Frederick, Md.

Blaine Miller, 27, of Clear Spring, said he had just finished his probationary period and thought he was doing OK when the layoff notice blindsided him.

"It's just a pain starting over," said Miller, who said he's more concerned for his wife than himself.

They just bought a home in Clear Spring, he said.

Miller said he knows she'll worry until he finds another good-paying job.

While there are a lot of skilled jobs around, most don't pay well, he said.

Pangborn pays well for Washington County, they said.

Clark said in the little over two years he was with the company, his hourly pay rose from around $9 to $12.11.

Pangborn didn't tell the state Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation it was planning a layoff, said spokesman Marco K. Merrick.

As long as the layoff affects fewer than 50 workers, Pangborn isn't required by federal law to report it, Merrick said.

Everhart and Thomas B. Riford, marketing specialist for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said they hadn't heard about a layoff.

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