Ascension plant shutting down amid economic 'fallout' from coronavirus
SORRENTO - In what appears to be the first major layoff warning involving a production facility and COVID-19, plant bosses at LALumina announced most of its 302 employees would be laid off.
A letter to employees suggested the layoffs may be temporary.
"We are notifying you that in the period of time between May 24th and June 7th, you will be laid off. Given the unknown duration of this layoff, we are providing you this notice pursuant to the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act, should it apply. Bumping rights, if any, will be handled in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement."
Plant managers said the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic dropped the price of alumina below the cost to produce.
The facility's largest customer, Almatis, reduced its orders for the products produced at the Sorrento facility on Hwy. 22 along the Mississippi River.
The plant said it has enough bauxite, a sedimentary rock with a high alumina content that's used as the world's main source of aluminum, to produce alumina for the next 55-65 days then the plant will move to a shutdown.
During the shutdown only a skeletal crew will remain, the plant managers said.
The state workforce hotline provided to employees in the letter, 225-342-3111, was busy most of Tuesday morning as thousands of workers across Louisiana attempt to file unemployment claims related to being out of work because of the virus outbreak and state stay at home order.
LALumina's letter to employees was dated Monday, March 30.
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