American Soda lays off 30 percent of its work force |

American Soda lays off 30 percent of its work force

American Soda will lay off nearly a third of its work force Nov. 15, as part of a plan to merge production with the parent company’s plant in Green River, Wyo., said American Soda general manager Charlie Yates.

“It’s unfortunate we have to let these good people go,” Yates said. “But this will give us a good, steady operation.”

Yates said there are 109 positions at the American Soda plant outside Parachute, and 32 positions will be eliminated. Of the 32 positions to be eliminated, three are vacant.

The Houston-based Solvay America bought American Soda from Williams Production in September. Yates said Solvay’s soda ash plant in Green River is larger than the Parachute plant, and has a lower cost of production.

The Green River plant will operate at full capacity, Yates said, and the Parachute plant will produce “incremental” tons of soda ash as needed.

The new production schedule is part of Solvay’s 2004 operations plan.

American Soda’s scaled-down payroll will be in excess of $5 million, Yates said. Next year’s production, which will include sodium bicarbonate, will be less than this year’s projected 500,000 tons.

Williams Production laid off part of the American Soda work force last January due to the parent company’s financial problems.

“This should get us to the employment level we need to go forward,” Yates said.

Yates said laid-off employees will receive health insurance during the 12 weeks they are covered by unemployment compensation.

“The severance package is quite good,” he said.

Laid-off workers who remain in the area may be called back as the year goes on.

A company memo, issued on Tuesday, said workers who are being laid off will be notified on Nov. 4.

The Brussels, Belgium-based Solvay, which owns Solvay America, employs more than 30,000 people in 50 countries. The company recorded $7.9 billion in sales in 2002, generated by activities in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and processing.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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