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Wyeth Pharmaceuticals lays off 118 workers

ROUSES POINT One-sixth of the workforce at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has been informed they will no longer have a job beginning early next year. In an interview Nov. 20, David F. Champagne III, managing director of the Rouses Point drug manufacturing facility, stated 118 of Wyeths 725 local employees were actively notified their employment would end the latter part of January 2009. Lay-offs were made throughout the corporation, Champagne said, and covered a cross-section of employees that impacts both management and hourly-paid employees. Seventy-one jobs were also announced to be eliminated at a Wyeth facility in Pearl River and 124 jobs will be cut in Sanford, N.C. "It's a corporate-wide initiative looking at what our requirements are for the workload and trying to look at how we operate, Champagne said. This is all driven by Wyeth business. Reduced demand for the products made here is having a direct impact on the number of employees we need at this time. Hopefully we never have to do this again, he added. Champagne said the affected employees have been offered an extensive severance package that includes extended healthcare benefits, outplacement services and career counseling. In an interview last Friday with Gerald Setley, council vice president and regional director for the International Chemical Workers Union the body which represents union workers at the Rouses Point facility Setley said a meeting Nov. 21 with Wyeth representatives gave us a little bit of a bitter taste in our mouth. In our view, theyre taking away the more experienced workforce and replacing it with a younger workforce, said Setley. Sixty-two of the 118 workers to be laid off are union workers, said Setley. The others are not represented by the ICWU, and, to his understanding, are salaried employees. Setley said the union has been in contact with the office of U.S. Sen. Hilary Clinton, D-N.Y., to keep her informed of the situation and is in the process of reaching out to Akrimax Pharmaceuticals to see what arrangements, if any, can be made for the soon-to-be displaced workers. Timothy Soule, Akrimax vice president of human resources and government affairs, said his company is very concerned and our sympathy goes to those folks being affected by Wyeths decision. It's always tough losing a job, especially this time of year, said Soule. Our goal, as an organization, when we take control of the facility, is to hire back as many people as possible. When Akrimax purchased the facility from Wyeth earlier this year, both announced plans for Akrimax to become the employer of record Jan. 1, 2010. The employees, at that time, would transition from being Wyeth employees to employees of Akrimax. In the meantime, Wyeth is leasing the space from Akrimax until it ceases operations the end of next year. We're full-steam ahead, Soule said of Akrimaxs plans. We're diligently working in the marketplace, identifying opportunities for products we can bring into the plant and the management team at Akrimax is fully committed to making this a success and a continued pride in the North Country.

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