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Bayer Announces Berkeley Job Cuts

Friday December 12, 2003

Bayer Healthcare AG—Berkeley’s sixth largest employer and the city’s largest corporate job source—announced a 11 percent workforce reduction Thursday, a move that will leave 190 Berkeley employees without a job. 

The move was announced as part of a consolidation and realignment of the German corporation’s biotech research division. 

Clelia Baur, director of public policy and communications for the Berkeley facility, said the changes will transfer Berkeley jobs to sites in West Haven, Conn., and Wuppertal, Germany, where the company is based. 

The facility’s two other divisions—diagnostics, which conducts nucleic acid diagnostics, and manufacturing, the department responsible for producing the leading biotechnology therapy Kogenate, a treatment for hemophilia—won’t be affected, she said. 

According to Baur, changes to the biotech division had been scheduled for some time. According to other reports however, the move to consolidate followed an unsuccessful search for a partner company to aid the struggling division. 

Many employees, including a sizable number of Ph.D.s, according to Baur, will have the opportunity to fill openings in other divisions at the Berkeley facility. 

“This particular group had known for some time that the pharmaceutical group had been looking at different options,” she said. 

Those not rehired will be phased out over either a 3-, 6-, or 12-month period and will be given severance packages.  

“We will be working aggressively to find them other positions either in Bayer or close by,” said Baur. 

Of the 190 affected by the cutbacks, 17 are represented under a contract with the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Worker’s (ILWU) Union Local 6 which represents 500 of facility’s 1700 employees.  

“The impact we hope is minimal,” said Fred Pecker, the Secretary Treasurer for the local. “We’re hopeful that most of [the union employees] are absorbed into other positions.” 

Also affected are 75 people at a Bayer facility in Kyoto, Japan, who will lose their jobs during the first half of 2004 when the company moves their positions to Germany.