ELMORE -- The nation's economic state is
forcing Brush Wellman to eliminate 16 jobs in a program designed to
help victims of chronic beryllium disease, a spokesman said Friday.
The plant uses beryllium to make parts for the electronics,
cellular and automotive industries, and also has contracts with the
military and government.
The program to be eliminated was developed for workers who have
contracted chronic beryllium disease as a result of working at the
plant, said Dave Cahill, human resources director at Brush Wellman.
"The aim of the (program was) to try and help as much as we can
for (CDB carriers) to make a transition to other careers and jobs
that takes them out of the exposure path," Cahill said. "We are in
the same kind of challenging business situation that many others are
in right now. We have had an ongoing work force reduction of 170
people and business is down 60 percent.
"We regret this decision, but it's something we're compelled to
He said 16 of the 32 enrolled in the program were given two
options this week, Cahill said. They can quit the company and find a
new job by Jan. 1, or return to the plant by bumping someone with
less seniority than themselves, he said.
If the CBD victim chooses to leave the company, he or she will
continue to receive pay, benefits and educational assistance for one
year, Cahill said. The cut employee has a possibility of getting 12
weeks of additional pay on top of that as well, Cahill said.
CBD is caused by exposure to the dust from beryllium metal if a
person has a sensitivity to the disease. The disease worsens with
continued exposure, and is sometimes fatal.
Cahill said there are 625 people working at Brush Wellman now,
down 240 from last year.
Among the 32 enrolled in the program, Cahill said the 16 who had
been in the program the longest or had the most seniority were
selected for the reduction because they were considered to have the
The program, called the Small Business Unit, was developed in the
late '90s. It allowed workers who developed chronic beryllium
disease to hold jobs outside of the plant or inside the plant's
"white zone" -- the plant's beryllium-free area.
The 32 workers CBD victims currently receive educational
assistance, pay subsidization and benefits from Brush Wellman at two
off-site plant locations and at other businesses, or in the white
Two Brush Wellman off-site locations, in Elmore and Oak Harbor,
will be shut down by the end of this year. Sixteen workers at other
job sites remain in the program.
Elmore resident Mike Schack is one of those affected by the
"My husband was told (Thursday) he had to start going back into
the plant to do his job or leave work in January," said Debbie
Schack of her husband, who had been working in the white zone ever
since he was diagnosed with CBD about a year ago.
Schack, a senior environmental engineer, has been working at the
plant for 16 years.
"I'll tell you, he's 57 years old and with CBD he's looking at 10
years until he's dead," Debbie Schack said of her husband who is
displaying early signs of the disease. "We've got a son in college
and another graduating from high school this year. He's 57. Where's
he going to get another job?"
"At this stage, he's not disabled, but who's going to hire him at
this age when he has beryllium disease?"