As feeble demand for its products continues to persist amid a global economic meltdown, Dow Chemical Co. plans to extend production cuts at its Freeport complex that was reduced last month to less than 40% capacity. The US chemical major also plans to delay calling back contract workers at Freeport, from where it had send home most of its 4,000 contract workers between December 15 and January 5. Unless business gains pace, the company will continue to run the facility at the reduced levels until the end of January, pending further notice.
Alongside, Dow has offered 50 voluntary buyouts to its 950 unionized plant operators in Freeport as part of a broader corporate restructuring program announced last month. The site has roughly 4,500 permanent Dow employees. The restructuring calls for a reduction of 11% of Dow's global workforce, or about 5,000 employees, a third of its 6,000 contractors, as well as production cuts at 180 plants and closure of 20 others worldwide. Dow, with 6,000 employees in Texas at production sites in La Porte, Freeport, Texas City, Clear Lake, Seadrift and an administrative office in Houston, is still unclear how other sites will be affected by the cuts. Just before Christmas, the operating engineers union completed negotiations on a labor contract covering 157 workers from Dow's Freeport complex who had planned to go to work for K-Dow. Dow officials now are discussing possible other roles for the employees who had been tapped for K-Dow.