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Kennecott: Buyout response means no additional layoffs after all

Published June 5, 2013 2:23 pm

Workforce cuts • More than 130 accept early retirement.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A last-minute surge in the number of unionized workers who stepped forward to accept an early retirement package at Kennecott has chased awaythe spectre of another big layoff at the Utah copper mining company.

More than 130 hourly workers accepted the buyout by the June 1 deadline. Kennecott said Tuesday its efforts to cut costs in the wake of the massive April 10 landslide at its Bingham Canyon Mine, coupled with the previously announced layoff of 100 or so salaried workers, has eliminated the need for any further cuts in its workforce at this time.

"We couldn't be more pleased," said Wayne Holland, international staff representative for the United Steelworkers of America, which represents about 1,500 of the 1,800 bargained-for employees at the Utah copper mining giant. "I know a lot of the younger workers out there are extremely grateful to those older workers who came forward and took the retirement package so they could keep their jobs."

The threat of a massive layoff at Kennecott has hung over the company's 2,400 employees since the northeast slope of the 4,000-foot-deep Bingham Canyon Mine collapsed in a landslide that sent 165 million tons of rock and rubble tumbling into pit below. Mine officials have estimated the landslide, one of the largest in mining history, will cut ore production in half this year.

The company had said an initial light response to the buyout could mean deeper layoffs.