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Exide Technologies issued Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) 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.

As Exide continues to evaluate the company’s alternatives regarding future operations at the Vernon, California recycling facility, they have 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.

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.

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. Exide Technologies has operated the Vernon recycling facility at 2700 S. Indiana Street since 2000.

Published in the May 2014 Edition of American Recycler News