PITTSBURGH Exide Technologies Ltd. will temporarily lay off more than 120 employees at its Vernon, Calif., lead smelting facility after failing to upgrade pollution controls at the facility.
The company issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice that will affect 104 hourly unionized workers and 20 salaried employees at the plant.
The Milton, Ga.-based company, which had hoped to remain open while it invested $5 million to upgrade the facility to meet state emissions standards, was denied a request from the South Coast Air Quality Management District for more time to gain compliance with the new air rules. Exide also sought a preliminary injunction to stop the order, but the court did not rule in its favor (amm.com, April 10). The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year (amm.com, June 10).
"Todays announcement means parents and hard-working people in the community are now facing the daunting prospect of unemployment, and our thoughts are with them, along with the many suppliers and local business owners who count on Exide for steady income," Exide chief executive officer Robert M. Caruso said in a statement.
Exide will outsource its processing to third-party recyclers, which will allow the company to continue operations. The Vernon facility processes 25,000 batteries per day.
The head of the local union called on the state to work as allies with industry. "As California works to grow its green economy, we need our state leaders and local regulators to work collaboratively with large manufacturing companies to help them achieve Californias rigorous air quality standards, protect public health and concurrently provide these types of solid jobs to local families," said David Campbell, secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers union Local 675.