IPSCO will cut 70% of local workforce

CLINTON — More details have emerged regarding the impending layoffs of TMK IPSCO employees in Camanche.

According to Clinton Regional Development Corporation Existing Industries Manager Andy Sokolovich, Iowa officials on Tuesday received IPSCO's official Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notice for 101 employees at the company's Camanche facility. Also made public was the implementation date of the layoffs, which will be Aug. 13.

Sokolovich estimated on Monday that the plant currently employs about 140, meaning the facility's workforce will be slashed by approximately 70 percent as a result of the August layoffs. Based in Houston, IPSCO Director of Marketing and Communications Donna Smith this week cited rising oil and fuel costs as well as a decrease in demand for IPSCO's products as causes for the layoffs. The Camanche plant currently manufactures Oil Country Tubular Goods, line pipe and construction goods.

The layoffs come about a year and a half after IPSCO announced a revival for the Camanche location, unveiling plans to hire more than 50 new employees in May 2017. That number eventually rose to 85 new workers. Now, with a mass layoff a little less than two months away, plans are in the works to help the soon-to-be displaced employees land on their feet after Aug. 13.

"The focus has to be on identifying the skill sets of those displaced workers, and figuring out where they can best use those skills after the layoffs," Sokolovich said Tuesday. "On top of that, we'll work on retraining those people, as well as informing them of any unemployment benefits that they have available to them."

Conversations have begun between Sokolovich, other employers and hiring officials throughout the Gateway area. Paired with retraining and benefits education, entrepreneurial opportunities for displaced workers have also been discussed in mass lay-off situations such as this in the past, Sokolovich said.

IPSCO is currently in an ongoing buyout in which the company will be sold to global manufacturer Tenaris, which is based in Luxemborg. Job security for hourly-wage workers is volatile during a buyout process, Sokolovich said. To his understanding, he said on Monday, hourly workers are the group affected by the upcoming round of layoffs.

Though the wheels are in motion to aid those workers after Aug. 13, it is merely preparation at this point. The success of that preparation will be closely monitored in the coming months.

"The reality is, is that these people are still working at IPSCO for the next 60 days or so, so it's kind of limited how we can work with them until they're actually laid off," Sokolovich said. "When that time comes, that's when we'll really get hands on and help them find new jobs and get gainfully employed again, if that's what they want."