Cox Creek plans layoffs, closing of casting shop


Cox Creek Refining Co. announced yesterday that it would lay off more than 100 of its 276 workers as early as the middle of May.

W. Scott Armentrout, attorney for the Pasadena company, said that "continuing losses from operations" have forced Cox Creek to shut down its casting operation -- in which the copper is shaped into long, flat plates.

The casting shop will be closed June 1 and is likely to remain closed for at least a year, Mr. Armentrout said.

The company did not know exactly how many workers would be laid off, but it was warning them of the shutdown now because of a new federal law requiring advance notification, he said.

Some parts of the plant will remain open because the company will receive already-cast copper from suppliers, which include one of its owners, the Mitsubishi Metal America Corp., Mr. Armentrout said

Mitsubishi bought a controlling interest in Cox Creek last summer and now owns 80 percent of the company. A wire company, the Southwire Corp. of Carrollton, Ga., owns the rest, Mr. Armentrout said.

Cox Creek will continue to turn the copper into supplies for wire and cathodes, he said.

In a written statement announcing the layoffs, the company said it will "pare back operations to the point where the company can continue to operate at a reduced survival level for the next year or two."

The company said it hoped to improve the plant during the shutdown.

Mr. Armentrout declined to say exactly why the company has been losing money in recent months.

But in the last several months, Cox Creek has been hit with expensive environmental fines and labor settlements.

Cox Creek, which underwent a bitter union organizing battle under a previous owner, paid about $314,000 in September to 70 employees who charged that they were fired for helping the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

In addition, the company recently settled a dispute over how it protects workers from lead dust by agreeing to provide safety equipment, training and blood tests.

And last month, the company was fined $13,000 by the Maryland Department of the Environment for air pollution violations.

Union officials could not be reached for comment on the layoffs.

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