Eastalco factory cutting 150 jobs Frederick aluminum plant 'not competitive,' will decrease output

November 05, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Aluminum Co. of America will reduce production at its Eastalco Works plant in Frederick, causing 150 layoffs and early retirements, the company said yesterday.

The job reductions, some of which already have occurred, should be completed by February, said Earl Robbins, Eastalco's public and government affairs manager.

Eastalco produces 174,000 metric tons of aluminum a year, but that will be scaled back to 144,000 metric tons. Other Alcoa plants will absorb the 30,000-metric-ton load, he said.

Steadily declining aluminum prices prompted the reduction in jobs and production, Robbins said. In 1995, a pound of aluminum cost 85 cents. Today it costs 58 cents, he said.

"Eastalco is not competitive, and we must be to survive," he said. "We need to make some changes."

Eastalco has 825 employees, 640 of whom are unionized.

The job reductions will affect 25 salaried, mainly administrative, positions. Those workers will receive a severance package and outplacement assistance, Robbins said.

The rest of the job losses will affect unionized workers. They will receive an early retirement package.

The workers are represented by the United Steelworkers of America Local 7886. Union officials were not available for comment yesterday.

Robbins said Eastalco is making other moves to reduce costs, including pushing for deregulation in the electric industry. A third of the facility's operating costs consists of outlays for electricity, amounting to about $65 million a year, he said.

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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