MILTON, Ga., April 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Exide Technologies (OTCQB:XIDEQ) (www.exide.com), a global leader in stored electrical-energy solutions, today issued WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act notifications to its workforce at the Company's recycling facility in Vernon, California. The temporary layoffs will affect 20 salaried workers, along with 104 hourly employees who are members of the United Steel Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Local No. 675.
The Company made this decision following the South Coast Air Quality Management District Hearing Board's (AQMD) denial of Exide's request for a variance to obtain a limited extension of time to comply with a new "negative pressure" operational standard contained within recently amended air quality regulations (Rule 1420.1) that govern the Vernon location. In addition, the Los Angeles Superior Court denied the Company's petition that would have allowed Exide to continue operating the Vernon facility until a trial on the legality of Rule 1420.1 could be held. Either the variance or the petition would have permitted Exide to operate while implementing a Risk Reduction Plan previously approved by AQMD. The Risk Reduction Plan includes $5 million in operational improvements and capital investments to further reduce emissions, enhance compliance with the AQMD's existing air quality regulatory standards, and help to ensure compliance with recently adopted air regulatory standards.
"Because our Vernon facility is not currently operating and not able to meet the new operational standard without the necessary time to purchase, install and test the required equipment, we had no choice but to make this very difficult decision to temporarily lay off most of our workers –some of whom are second- or third-generation Exide employees," said Robert M. Caruso, Chief Executive Officer of Exide Technologies. "We know these layoffs will be difficult for our employees and their families, and we thank them for their efforts and dedication to our Company."
As Exide continues to evaluate the Company's alternatives regarding future operations at the Vernon, California recycling facility, the Company has established arrangements with third party recyclers to provide tolling and continues to negotiate additional purchases to satisfy lead requirements, both of which will allow the Company to continue operations in the ordinary course.
"We understand that today's announcement means parents and hard-working people in the community are now facing the daunting prospect of unemployment, and our thoughts are with them, along with the many suppliers and local business owners who count on Exide for steady income," added Caruso.
The layoffs are another blow for residents of Southeast Los Angeles, which continues to wrestle with double-digit unemployment. The more than 100 union jobs at the plant offer stability and economic opportunity for dozens of working families in the heart of Los Angeles.
"This is a disappointing day – these are highly specialized, well-paying jobs that simply can't be easily transferred to other industries," said David Campbell, Secretary-Treasurer, United Steel Workers, AFL-CIO, Local No. 675. "As California works to grow its green economy, we need our state leaders and local regulators to work collaboratively with large manufacturing companies to help them achieve California's rigorous air quality standards, protect public health and concurrently provide these types of solid jobs to local families."
The Vernon facility, one of only two lead-battery recycling plants west of the Rocky Mountains, processed 25,000 car, truck, motorcycle and other lead-acid batteries every day in a closed-loop system, keeping them from being improperly dumped in landfills or shipped to places with weaker environmental controls. In automotive applications alone, the global car-park now exceeds one billion units, and approximately 98 percent of these vehicles operate with lead-acid batteries. These batteries contain lead, sulfuric acid and plastic, and what happens to them at the end of their service lives is as important as their performance under the hood. The Vernon facility has been recycling spent lead-acid batteries since the 1920s. Exide Technologies has operated the Vernon recycling facility at 2700 S. Indiana Street since 2000.
"Exide is prepared to invest in the people, processes and technology at our Vernon facility. We have an approved plan in place, focused on upgrades that will further reduce emissions, as well as enhance the health and safety of our employees, and the community," said Bruce Cole, President, Recycling, and Research and Development of Exide Technologies. "We continue working cooperatively with the Department of Toxic Substance Control and community leaders, and stand ready to work with AQMD, so that we may undertake these significant initiatives."
WARN offers protection to workers and their families by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered layoffs. This notice must be provided to affected workers and their representatives; to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.
About Exide Technologies
Exide Technologies, with operations in more than 80 countries, is one of the world's largest producers and recyclers of lead-acid batteries. The Company's global business groups provide a comprehensive range of stored electrical energy products and services for industrial and transportation applications. Transportation markets include original-equipment and aftermarket automotive, heavy-duty truck, agricultural and marine applications, and new technologies for hybrid vehicles and automotive applications. Industrial markets include network power applications such as telecommunications systems, electric utilities, railroads, photovoltaic (solar-power related) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS), and motive-power applications including lift trucks, mining and other commercial vehicles.
Battery Recycling: Critical to Environmental Sustainability
The recycling of lead-acid batteries is one of the most significant and enduring environmental success stories of our time. Exide Technologies has proudly produced and recycled lead-acid batteries globally for 126 years. The Company recycles sufficient lead tonnage to make it one of the largest secondary lead recyclers in the world. Exide also is a significant recycler of plastic, capturing the plastic from spent batteries and using it in the production of cases and covers for new batteries.
Battery recycling helps consumers in that it keeps recyclable materials, including lead and plastic, in the recycling stream and out of the environment. Battery recycling also helps to free battery retailers from the regulatory complexities of handling lead and assures them of a continuous supply of batteries made from high quality, recycled materials.
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