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Viatris telegraphs closure of decades-old West Virginia plant, where more than 1,400 will lose jobs: report

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Months after Pfizer and Mylan’s generics spinoff Viatris sketched out a $1 billion cost-cutting initiative, the company is telegraphing details around the closure of a major U.S. plant formerly operated by Mylan. 

Viatris is due to shutter manufacturing operations at its oral solid dose plant in Morgantown, West Virginia, on July 31. That same day, a majority of some 1,431 layoffs there are expected to go into effect, The Dominion Post reported Thursday, citing a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice Viatris sent to local authorities this week. 

It’s possible that limited wind-down and closure activities will continue after the July shutdown, potentially through March 31, 2022, the notice said.

RELATED: Viatris, Organon could merge given similar business models, but one of them already seems more credible: analyst

Of the more than 1,400 staffers set to be laid off or “separated from employment,” 764 are unionized and 482 are not, the Post said. The closure, first announced late last year, has led to outcries from workers, union leaders and lawmakers seeking to protect jobs. 

The plant has been operating for decades and has been a staple of the community for many years. Viatris CEO Michael Goettler acknowledged the plant’s history when his company unveiled the closure late last year, saying it’s a decision Viatris “did not take lightly,” as quoted by MetroNews.

United Steelworkers Local 8-957 recently submitted a petition on behalf of the plant, entreating West Virginia’s governor Jim Justice to take action. Meanwhile, West Virginia’s state legislature has passed resolutions that call on Gov. Justice to create a task force of congressional representatives, labor organizations and other industry leaders to press President Joe Biden to leverage the Defense Production Act to save the plant. 

Under that proposal, the DPA would would allow the facility to be retrofitted to produce, package and distribute critical meds, vaccines and personal protective equipment, USW Local 8-957 said in a release. 

RELATED: With Mylan-Upjohn merger wrapped, Viatris chairman Coury collects $29M in 2020 pay

Meanwhile, the Morgantown Area Partnership is working with Viatris on the closure and says it’s assembling a workforce development committee that will initially focus on aiding Viatris staffers, The Dominion Post reported.

When Viatris blueprinted its plan in December, it said it would look to find buyers for its plants “wherever possible” in a bid to preserve jobs. Those efforts have continued, with several inquiries so far, said Russ Rogerson, president and CEO of MAP. 

“None of those are at the point where I can say we have imminent decision-making, but just wanted you to know there is activity and interest in that facility, ” he said.

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