MORGANTOWN — Mylan’s final exodus has begun.
Most of the remaining employees at the once-leading pharmaceuticals maker on Chestnut Ridge Road, which is being shuttered all but for good Saturday, have already been told to clean out their lockers, turn in their parking passes and not come back, Joe Gouzd said.
Gouzd is president of United Steelworkers Local 8-957, the Morgantown-based union of which most of those employees are members.
“They’re just basically pulling the pin on the place,” Gouzd said, in reference to Viatris, the plant’s new owner, which was formed by a merger of Mylan and Upjohn.
Now, the Canonsburg, Pa.-based parent company is shifting the bulk of its operations overseas to India.
The move is part of Viatris’ plan to cut operating costs by $1 billion.
In all, some 482 non-union workers and 764 union members will be out of the work when it all comes down Saturday in Morgantown.
The weekend shift, in the meantime, finished up for good this past Sunday, the union president said.
Night shift workers were told to go home for good at 6 a.m. Monday, the end of their workday.
Either way, all the ousted employees will still be paid through Saturday, he said. After that, their severance package from Viatris kicks in.
Gouzd expected more of the one-way trip to continue Tuesday.
“My guess, and it’s just a guess, that the afternoon shift will be gone around 4-5 p.m.,” he said.
Production lines have already been shut down and shipping operations have ceased, he said.
“The gig is done,” Gouzd said.
“If you’re facing the inevitable, there’s nothing left to do.”
Not that there already hasn’t been a lot of activity around the plant in an effort to keep it up and running in Morgantown, in whatever incarnation.
Several grassroots groups and local lawmakers have already spoken out for the plant, which was co-founded by Morgantown benefactor, the late Milan “Mike” Puskar, who set up operations here in 1965 after moving from a once-condemned roller rink in Greenbrier County.
Gouzd continued to chide Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin, the state’s senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill, for not being more of a presence in the above negotiations.
Viatris officials weren’t available for comment in time for this report.
“The decision to cease operations at Chestnut Ridge as part of a global, multi-site restructuring initiative was one we did not take lightly,” spokeswoman Jennifer Mauer said in a release last week, “and in no way reflects upon the company’s appreciation for the commitment, work ethic and valuable contributions of our employees.”
For Gouzd, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Especially, he said, as he looks back on what the Mylan operation once meant for families and the Morgantown community.
“How do you go from being a top performer in the world for 50 years to this?” he said.
“These are malicious people who destroyed Mr. Puskar’s legacy. That’s what it is.”