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Ribbon plant will lay off 90

The Hagerstown manufacturing facility will lay off employees in the next year, in part because of cheaper labor costs in Mexico.

The Hagerstown manufacturing facility will lay off employees in the next year, in part because of cheaper labor costs in Mexico.

March 19, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Berwick Offray officials last week told employees at its Hagerstown Lion Ribbon manufacturing plant that 90 people would be laid off in the next year, in part because of cheaper labor costs in Mexico, a company official said Tuesday.

"It's competition and if the competition can make the product cheaper, there's no point in our making it in the United States," said Nancy Schott, vice president of human resources for Berwick Offray in Berwick, Pa.

Twenty manufacturing workers were told last Friday their layoffs were effective that day, Schott said. The other 30 manufacturing layoffs will occur during the next three months, she said.

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The manufacturing workers being laid off work with a product called cut edge, Schott said. Cut edge refers to large rolls of wide ribbon that are cut down to 1- and 2-inch wide ribbon. The thinner ribbon is edged so the new edges won't fray.

That work will shift to Mexico, she said.

The manufacturing workers being laid off are members of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.

The other 40 jobs being lost are nonunion administrative positions, Schott said.

Berwick Offray has been moving administrative departments to the Berwick office. Five people will be laid off this fall with the remaining 35 people to be laid off in the first quarter of 2004, she said.

Before Berwick Industries LCC bought C.M. Offray & Son Inc. in March 2002, there were periodic layoffs of smaller groups of employees due to the recession.

Berwick officials said in December that 25 employees, mostly administrative personnel, would be laid off by the end of February because of a soft economy and efforts to move administrative jobs to Berwick. The company ended up laying off about 22 people.

The local plant has about 380 active employees this week, Schott said.

Western Maryland Consortium officials will be at the plant Thursday to help workers with job search skills and retraining, she said.

Schott said she does not anticipate more layoffs in Hagerstown, but that depends on the economy, the industry and the impending war with Iraq.

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