Rohm and Hass announce layoffs, workers contemplate futures
Two-thirds of the workers at Louisville's Rohm and Haas chemical plant will lose their jobs by the middle of next year. The company announced layoffs Tuesday. 223 workers and their families are contemplating their futures, futures without jobs at Rohm and Haas.
The ride home was likely long and quiet for Rohm and Haas workers. John Dukes, contract worker says, "Everybody else is pretty much in a solemn mood."
The company told them two-thirds of the employees won't be working there by the middle of next year. Rohm and Haas will lay off more than 220 people as it closes one production line and cuts back another.
Arne Keister, Rohm & Haas engineer says, "I think the company will do the best that it can for us, but there are a lot of things they need to work out as well.
While the company has announced the layoffs, individual workers may not know their specific futures for several days or weeks. That will bring some anxious times ahead, and some difficult talk at the supper table. Lynn Shoopman-Chapman, Rohm & Haas engineer says, "We just pray a lot. Just pray a whole lot."
The company blames a faltering housing market and changing worldwide markets for its chemicals. Employment will have dropped from just over 800 in 1989 to 128 next year. Keister says, "That has been a hard thing for our company because we supply so much to the housing and construction industry."
Production workers can earn $60,000-$70,000 a year. Salaried workers, even more. That makes Rohm and Haas jobs among the best-paying manufacturing jobs in town.
Shoopman-Chapman says, "Some of my neighbors work for GE. Some other neighbors work for Ford, and now this announcement today. So, just on my street there's four homes out of like eleven that are affected by some of the recent economy hits."
The company also plans to tear down unused parts of the plant. The mayor said he's disappointed in the news. The city will try to help laid off workers.