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Viatris plant workers request action to project job as closure looms

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A petition on behalf of Morgantown Viatris plant workers has been sent to state lawmakers requesting action to protect the employees and the Chestnut Ridge Road facility.

United Steelworkers Local 8-957 submitted the petition two months before the plant closes. The decision is related to Viatris’ origins — in which the company formed between Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer subsidiary Upjohn — and a restructuring plan to cut at least $1 billion in costs by 2024. The Morgantown facility is scheduled to close in July.

The state Legislature passed resolutions during its regular session calling on elected officials, labor organizations and industry leaders to take action to protect the 1,500 workers, in which around 850 people are part of the union.

United Steelworkers Local 8-957 President Joe Gouzd said while some lawmakers have requested a tour of the facility, such action will likely not happen.

“The United Steel Workers Union has asked for a tour of the facility for the past two years,” he told MetroNews affiliate WAJR-AM. “Each time we’ve asked to enter the facility, we have been told by corporate they are unable to participate in our request.”

Union leaders and lawmakers have also asked why the facility cannot be repurposed. Gouzd suggested manufacturing coronavirus equipment as countries like India continue reporting an increase in cases.

“The facility could be retrofitted to make a number of different things,” he said. “Perhaps rubber gloves or N-95 masks.”

Gouzd also mentioned Viatris has provided little information about severance packages for current employees.

“In fact, corporate has been quite evasive to give any kind of facts or a fair resolution of the severance,” he added.

Viatris is planning many of its operations pending closure to other countries.

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