UPDATE: LaFarge Cement forced to make changes to its Seattle plant

Changing to a cement grinding, blending and shipping operation

Due to market conditions and a changing regulatory environment, Lafarge North America announced on April 29, 2010, that it will cease clinker production at its Seattle Cement plant at the end of 2010 and put the kiln in a care and maintain mode. At that time the facility will be transitioned from a clinker/cement manufacturing operation to a cement grinding, blending and shipping operation.

Employees were notified yesterday and every effort is being taken to look at how the skills and experience of employees might be utilized in the changing operation.

This will affect more than half the existing number of employees at the Seattle plant which currently employs 70 people. The company plans on working with the affected employees to help them find other work or retrain.

Seattle Plant Manager, Richard Sebastianelli said "We are letting our people know now. Our best intention is to give us the maximum time available to find a solution for every person affected. That's our ultimate goal. We have six to eight months and we have different services we're offering our people to help the transition and find other positions or jobs...One, within Lafarge, if we're able to find the right skill set, and a person is able to re-locate we can entertain that and we're going to be bringing some services in the plant to train people so that they can market themselves better... We'll actually help them build their resumes, and work on interviewing skills."
The company also has other plans, whose details will be released soon to aid laid off workers.

Sebastianelli emphasized: “We recognize the stress and pressure this action places on our employees and their families, and we are very committed to doing everything we can to assist them through this difficult time.”

Seattle area customers will receive product manufactured at other plants in Lafarge’s Western Business Unit. There will be no interruption in service. Lafarge will continue to utilize its marine fleet to transport product while maintaining the Company’s commitment to sustainability.

The economic viability of the Plant has been undermined by the current economic conditions and a decreased market demand combined with a new, stringent, regulatory environment - the full impact which is yet to be known.

The Seattle market is core to Lafarge’s business and the company will continue to serve its Seattle market customers and remain engaged with stakeholders."Our customers are going to be served with no interruptions," Sebastinelli said, "We're not disappearing."

The local plant also plans to stay engaged in the West Seattle community. They've spoken to some of the Community Panel members.
"I'm planning on having a meeting some time in June so we can kind of explain. By June things will have settled down here. We'll know in more detail who is being affected and what we're going to be doing exactly with the plant. One thing for sure is that the Seattle plant is a strategic asset for the company. We are not getting out of Seattle. The clinker production is ending but we are going to make Seattle more of a specialty product terminal. We have technology here to blend different products. Recently we just introduced a new product called Terracen that was used in the Brightwater project as a grout. We made this product specifically for this project, and this is what Seattle's going to be doing in the future, to look at new products," Sebastianelli said.

Lafarge North America Inc. (“Lafarge North America” or "Lafarge"), a Lafarge Group company, is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum.

In 2010 and for the sixth year in a row, the Lafarge Group was listed in the “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World”. With the world’s leading building materials research facility, the Lafarge Group places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.

For more information about Lafarge North America, go to www.lafarge-na.com

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