RAHWAY – Members of United Steelworkers Union Local 4-575 were joined by family members, retirees and members of other unions as they marched along East Scott Street in front of Merck & Co. offices on Monday afternoon to protest the company’s planned layoffs of up to 179 workers.
Many workers who would be affected are women, African-American and Hispanic workers, said Debby Eannucci, chief steward for the union, which represents 480 workers at the Rahway facility.
The union represents workers in janitorial services, laboratory services, warehouse and store room workers, workers in safety services and utility mechanics.
According to union President Jim Conway, the union was informed during negotiations in January that Merck planned to outsource jobs to a West Coast company. He said that the union is currently negotiating with Merck to renew their contract, which expires at the end of April.
Conway noted that while many companies laying off workers are doing it for economic reasons, it is “truly a shame with Merck because it made billions of dollars in profit last year.”
He pointed to a newspaper article which said that Merck’s CEO Richard T. Clark received a compensation package valued at $17.3 million in 2008 while the company’s profit more than doubled to $7.8 billion.
“And they want to cut wages of janitors and low-wage workers in the plant,” Conway said.