You may recall that back in August 2010 I reported Merck had reaquired this operation from a minority-owned vendor (called PRWT Services) — saying back then Whitehouse Station was looking to “consolidate, or sell” the Riverside operations. No buyer has emerged, and the minority contracting for API fermented product never really took off. Back in 2010, these USW Cherokee workers were laboring without a collective bargaining agreement; I assume that is still true.
So now about 10 percent of the Cherokee facility’s workforce is being notified that it is out of work — per the local online papaer:
. . . .About 30 employees of Cherokee Pharmaceuticals will lose their jobs as the facility ceases its contract fermentation operations in September.
The decision was announced in a press release issued Tuesday by Cherokee’s parent company, Merck.
Merck announced in 2011 its plans to sell or close the Cherokee plant’s fermentation facility as part of global consolidation effort [and no agreement to sell Cherokee has appeared]. . . .
The API sourcing contract through Merck was scheduled to run through January 2013. This latest news makes me wonder what will happen then — as January 2013 draws near. It could well be a cold Christmas for those Cherokee plant families. . . .
This is one of the saddest parts of American capitalism — needed, to preserve other jobs — but sad, just the same.