HUNTINGTON — Permanent layoff notices were sent to 75 workers at Special Metals over the weekend, while a strike over 100 days long continues in front of the plant on Riverside Drive near Huntington.
“We were told in December the company was filing a WARN notice for 75 employees and the reason given was the company was getting out of a couple product lines,” said United Steel Workers Local 40 President Chad Thompson.
Approximately 440 workers have been on strike since Oct. 1, and despite several rounds of negotiations there has been no deal reached on a new contract. Thompson said safety issues, length of time for temporary job assignments, vacation time and health care are some of the reasons for the strike.
According to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice filed by the company, the projected date of the layoffs is Jan. 31, 2022. However, Thompson said workers’ letters indicate a Feb. 7, 2022, layoff date.
“We were hoping through negotiations we could avoid this, but Friday and Saturday our people started getting letters in the mail saying they would be permanently laid off Feb. 7,” Thompson said. “This is a terrible blow to these workers and their families.”
Negotiations are set to resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Thompson.
“We are still hopeful through negotiations this changes and our people do not lose their jobs,” he said.
The company had layoffs in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and in August 2021.
“They laid off 70 back in August,” Thompson said. “They normally are not permanent, but I guess they are discontinuing product lines permanently ... or so they say.”
He said he hoped the company wasn’t laying off workers because they were on strike.
“I think if they are doing this for a chip in negotiations, that’s pretty low,” he said.
In the past the company has stated it routinely adjusts employment levels based on operational needs.
The company did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Special Metals produces alloys critical to military jet engines and commercial aircraft, deep sea oil rigs and other equipment for operation in high-temperature and high-pressure environments. Special Metals is the largest nickel alloy plant in the world and the Huntington facility is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and operated by subsidiary Precision Castparts.