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Ribbon maker plans layoffs

December 05, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A soft economy and efforts to improve efficiency will result in 25 Lion Ribbon employees losing their jobs at the Hagerstown plant between now and the end of February, a corporate spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Another six employees are transferring to the Berwick Offray office in Berwick, Pa., said Nancy Schott, vice president of human resources for Berwick Offray.

Before being bought by Berwick Industries LCC in March, C.M. Offray & Son Inc. laid off 30 people temporarily and then laid off 15 people permanently last January because of the suffering garment industry.

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While Schott said she doesn't envision Berwick Offray shutting down the Hagerstown plant, "it's a tough business."

"We didn't buy the business to shut it down," but to expand it, Schott said.

The ribbon manufacturer is competing with importers during a soft economy, she said.

The company is continuing negotiations with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees for a three-year contract because the current pact expires Dec. 31, Schott said.

The Hagerstown plant on Willow Circle has 475 employees.

The affected employees were notified Tuesday of the impending changes, Schott said. The company is working with the Western Maryland Consortium and state agencies to offer retraining to the people losing jobs.

Of those 25 employees, most are office workers, Schott said. Four of them are factory workers. The union represents factory workers.

While all 25 employees will lose their jobs, 15 of those office positions will be relocated to the Berwick office, Schott said.

Office jobs are being transferred to Berwick to enable financial reports for federal regulatory agencies to be done quicker, Schott said. Financial reporting has become more challenging following the collapse of Enron, she said.

The company must file financial reports with the federal government because its parent company, CSS, is a publicly traded company, Schott said.

When the plant changed hands in March, Schott said Offray terminated all of its employees and Berwick offered to rehire almost all of them. She said she did not know how many of the former Offray employees were not offered jobs.

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