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Jul. 22—MORGANTOWN — On the same day that Our Revolution sent its letter to President Biden asking him to intervene and keep the Morgantown Viatris plant open, The Dominion Post learned that Viatris is closing a small Mylan facility in Vermont.
Mylan Technologies, part of Viatris, runs a printing operation in Swanton, Vt., about 6 miles south of the Canadian border. It's significantly smaller than the Morgantown Mylan plant set to close July 31 — 21 employees will be displaced in Vermont, compared to nearly 1, 500 here.
The Dominion Post received word about the Vermont plant closure Wednesday and asked Viatris about it.
Viatris said in an email exchange, "Earlier this year, we notified employees of the planned closure of our printing operations in Swanton, Vt., as part of the company's ongoing global restructuring initiative. While a few colleagues were transferred to our St. Albans facility, a total of 21 employees will exit the company in two waves and we expect to close the facility in mid-August."
While the plant is in Vermont, two employees of the Virginia state workforce office filed a petition for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance on behalf of the employees — all non-union — in late June. The petition shows that one group was expected to be separated July 6 and the second group will exit on Aug. 13, when the plant is set to close. The petition is pending with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The plant is part of Mylan Technologies' pharmaceutical printing and labeling division and reportedly prints labels for Mylan medicine bottles.
According to information gleaned by The Dominion Post, Mylan Technologies is based in Saint Albans, Vt., and has 250 employees.
Viatris said, "We still maintain a significant workforce in St. Albans, which plays a critical role for the company in manufacturing complex products."
As previously reported, Viatris planned a global restructuring after Mylan merged with Pfizer's Upjohn subsidiary to become the new company. Part of that restructuring involved divesting closing up to 15 plants worldwide: The Morgantown plant was among the first five announced in December, along with one each in Ireland and Puerto Rico and two in India.
Viatris said at the time that it expected that up to 20 % of its global workforce of 45, 000 people might be impacted upon completion of the restructuring initiative ; that's about 9, 000 people.
Swanton is a town of nearly 6, 500 people in Franklin County, Vt. The Dominion Post spoke with Swanton Chamber of Commerce President Adam Paxman about the impact the closure will have.
"We're a small community, and 21 jobs is a lot for us, " he said. He didn't know the average income of the jobs at the the facility but assumed they're mid-to high-tech jobs. "It is discouraging."
They first learned about the closure four to five months ago, he said. Most employees live in the county, a few might commute from New York, about 15-20 minutes west of town.
Asked what's next, he said when the building closes they'll put out feelers to get a new business in there. There's a lot of interest from Canada but with the border closed by COVID, "things are quite slow in that market."
He closed with, "I wish them the best of luck. I hope everybody finds jobs and they can stay as local as possible, because small communities absolutely need these businesses and these jobs in their communities to survive."
Letter to Biden The Dominion Post previously reported that the progressive organization Our Revolution and United Steelworkers Local 8-957 planned to team with other organizations to write to Biden and urge him to invoke the Defense Production Act to keep the Morgantown plant operating as a matter of national security. The 40 organizations sent the letter on Wednesday.
They quote Biden describing his Build Back Better plan: "This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild an American economy for our families and the next generation."
They ask him to make good on that "to stop the outsourcing of American jobs and life-saving American-made generic drugs. ... If Viatris succeeds in its plan, the move will leave our country with virtually no domestic production of generic pharmaceuticals."
They cite a number of reasons to justify intervention:
— Taxpayer dollars (Medicare and Medicaid) will subsidize Viatris plan to increase profits through cheaper offshore labor.
— Key pharmaceutical ingredients come from China and most generics are made in India. "The President of Viatris, Rajiv Malik, has been cited in the past for altering the safety and production data needed to keep pharmaceutical production and consumption safe." So the plant closure will weaken and already vulnerable supply chain.
— "Viatris' race to the bottom will only harm America's middle class and national security—and use our tax dollars to do so."
— The combination of Mylan and Upjohn will further their monpolistic, competitive edge, they allege.
— The need for an industrial strategy. "In the absence of a national industrial strategy for U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturing, we have every reason to expect privately held corporations like Viatris will continue outsourcing American jobs and dismantling our manufacturing capacity."
They close with their demand for Biden to invoke the DPA and "immediately convene a task force with labor organizations, public health representatives, economic development representatives, local community representatives, and national security representatives to determine the most strategic use of the plant in terms of the manufacture, packaging, and shipping of critical, life-saving medications, or pharmaceutical inputs."
Once a new strategy is in place, they write, the plant can be retrofitted as needed and current workers can be rehired. "Time is running out. We strongly urge you to use every lever at your disposal to save this plant. If there is a will, there is a way. Please do something."
An attached analysis done by Bard Business School economist Michael Shuman projects that the 1, 431 plant jobs lost will lead to a total 4, 642 jobs lost by the end of the year — 6 % of the county's total jobs. This will lead to $403 million in lost wages and more than $1 billion in lost economic value, along with $62.8 million lost in state and local taxes.
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