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Press Release: Negotiations at Bayer’s bio-tech plant in Berkeley break down: Company refuses to protect jobs after taking taxpayer subsidies

From Craig Merrilees, ILWU
Monday September 19, 2011 - 05:37:00 PM

Four hundred workers at the Bayer Pharmaceutical plant in Berkeley, California are asking the company to honor promises made two years ago when executives accepted taxpayer subsidies in exchange for providing good-paying jobs.

Workers have been talking with the company since July 25, 2011, seeking guarantees that the company won’t get rid of good-paying jobs after getting a taxpayer bailout. Community concerns increased this spring when Bayer announced it was closing a nearby plant in Emeryville because they were outsourcing 400 jobs to a lower-cost facility overseas.

“It’s wrong for companies to take subsidies, promise good jobs to the community, then outsource those jobs after they’ve taken so much from taxpayers,” said Donal Mahon, a former Bayer veteran employee who is now helping workers negotiate a contract to protect good jobs and secure safer staffing levels at the Berkeley plant. 

Bayer reported profits of nearly $2 billion dollars last year, based in part on $1.35 billion in sales of the drug Kogenate which is manufactured in Berkeley. 

“It just seems like Bayer and so many other companies are trying to take advantage of workers and communities during the recession,” said Mahon. “We’re trying to hold them accountable on behalf of everyone in the community who depends on good jobs in this area.” 

If Bayer refuses to offer any job protection, workers will evaluate a range of options aimed at encouraging the company to be more accountable to the community.