Blind Industries lays off 50 paper plant workers

May 03, 1994|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Sun Staff Writer

Financially struggling Blind Industries and Services of Maryland has laid off all 50 of its paper plant workers in Baltimore, an organization official confirmed yesterday.

Ken Harper, chief financial officer for the not-for-profit organization, said the paper pad-making machines were shut down Friday because there were no more government orders for the pads.

He said he hopes to receive another order within two weeks so that workers can return to their jobs by the middle of the month.

This was the third major layoff in the last six months for the Baltimore-based organization, which is dedicated to employing and training blind Marylanders.

The organization, which had as many as 230 employees last year, is now down to about 90 workers, he said. And it is struggling under large losses and a heavy debt load.

But Mr. Harper said the recent layoffs and sale of assets such as cars have enabled the organization to start paying off its nearly $500,000 in overdue bills.

And a new order from the Defense Department for disposable washcloths has put off for two months the threatened closure of the organization's Cumberland plant.

Last month, Blind Industries said defense cutbacks would force the closure of the plant, which employed as many as 40 blind and sighted workers. But now, Mr. Harper said, the organization has enough contracts to keep the plant open at half strength through early June.

Blind Industries' sales, which topped $13.5 million last year, are expected to fall to about $7 million this year.

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