Dow Chemical Co. employees say job cuts the company announced today at its Plaquemine and Hahnville facilities could be the first of more to come. Dow is terminating about 270 workers at plants in Plaquemine and Hahnville as part of recession-driven worldwide work-force reduction. About 160 of Dow’s 1,600 employees in Plaquemine will lose their jobs, along with about 110 of the 1,100 workers at its Hahnville complex, says company spokeswoman Stacey Chiasson.
The Plaquemine job cuts alone could represent a $10 million loss in annual income in the region. Dow’s layoffs stem partly from the economic downturn but more from a company transformation into additional specialty chemicals, more profitable niche markets and less reliance on the commodity chemicals produced at the Louisiana operations.
Plaquemine workers say these cuts are by far worse than those some witnessed in the last downturn in the 1980s. In December, Dow cut contract labor and slashed plant maintenance budgets. Two older plants have been closed. Nearly three months ago, Dow started winding down operations with plants idled. Some workers have been offered severance packages, and remaining employees aren’t getting raises this year. “Dow has been good to me,” says a Plaquemine employee who doesn’t know if he still has a job with the company. “Some people are upset, but I can tell you overall I’ve had a good life.”—Anna Thibodeaux