Jobs lost: PotashCorp-Aurora reduces work force

Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

PotashCorp-Aurora reduced its work force by about 85 people — about 10 percent of current staffing levels — Tuesday, according to a company spokesman.

The reduction in employees leaves PotashCorp-Aurora with about 810 employees, leaving it as one of the largest employers in Beaufort County.

“This has been an emotional day here as we say goodbye to some of our valued employees,” said Ray McKeithan, manager for government and public affairs for PotashCorp-Aurora, on Tuesday. “We will provide them with severance packages that reflect their years of dedicated service. We will provide them with whatever assistance we can to help them transition.”

Terminated employees who earned bonuses will receive them, he noted.

McKeithan said “challenging times” resulted in the reduction of the work force at the company’s Aurora facilities, but the company remains committed to the safety of its employees and continued stewardship of the environment.

“Today is a difficult day for our employees, their families and for our company,” said Steve Beckel, PotashCorp-Aurora’s general manager. “These decisions are not made lightly, but in a challenging environment we must take steps to protect the sustainability of our operations, and we believe these changes help position PotashCorp Aurora to be globally competitive for the long term.”

A company-wide review of business and operations needs resulted in the changes at PotashCorp-Aurora. The changes will affect all three business segments — potash, phosphate and nitrogen — and are being made to enhance the company’s global position. At PotashCorp-Aurora, restructuring alternatives were identified that will allow the facility to operate more efficiently but not affect operational capability, according to the release.

“We are focused on ensuring this process is respectful of our employees and their families,” Beckel said. “We will work to help those affected through this challenging time. Our Aurora operation remains important to PotashCorp’s long-term plans and we remain committed to this community as well as to the state of North Carolina.”

As for the terminated employees, they have programs — aside from unemployment benefits — to help them deal with losing their jobs, said Neal Anderson, supervisor of the NCWorks office (formerly Employment Security Commission) in Washington.

NCWorks has activated its rapid-response team, which will work with the terminated employees to inform them of unemployment benefits and programs, including training options, to help them find other employment. NC Works, Beaufort County Community College and the Beaufort County Career Center (formerly JobLink) are part of that team.

For more information about the programs available to the terminated employees, call the Beaufort County Career Center at 252-946-3116.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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