State lawmakers try to save Viatris/Mylan jobs in Morgantown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates has passed a resolution calling for a special task force to investigate the possibility of repurposing the Mylan facility in Morgantown set to close in July.

The closure was announced on December 10 when the merger between Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Upjohn was complete and the company- Viatris was formed. If the plant closes on the scheduled date of July 31 an estimated 1,500 jobs would lost including the jobs of about 850 United Steel Workers members.

Mon County Delegate Barbara Fleischauer spoke in favor of the resolution on the House floor Friday.

“Time is of the essence because these people are scheduled to be laid off on July 31,” Fleischauer told delegates.

In March, union members traveled to Washington D.C. to tell lawmakers the plant closure could become a threat to national security.

At the time, president of the USW Local 8-957 Joseph G. Gouzd said,” As the pandemic made painfully clear, America must be able to supply its own needs. Our facility is one of the last remaining manufacturing sites of generic pharmaceuticals in this country. We cannot allow ourselves to become dependent on foreign supply chains for such a critical good.”

Fleischauer also believes the facility could provide vital support during the pandemic.

“This plant could be used to make vaccines. This plant could be retrofitted to make personal protective equipment,” Fleischauer said,” It could be retrofitted to make antivirals.”

As the closure date approaches Fleischauer wants lawmakers to organize efforts and even try to get the President of the United States involved.

“I think we should contact the President’s Coronavirus Task Force,” Fleischauer said on the House floor,” I think legislators should ask for a tour and we should meet with employees to find out what this plant could be used for. I invite all of you to come and try to save these jobs.”

If the plant closes the economic impact would hit businesses, schools and the housing market on a regional scale, according to WVU Director of the Bureau of Business & Economic Research John Deskins.

“It is time to save these jobs right now and we need to use the Defense Production Act,” Fleischauer said,” Which says in states of emergency there is assistance available to save jobs and get people to work.”

The Senate has already passed a similar resolution- Senate Resolution 22.

The Chestnut Ridge plant has been a part of the Morgantown community since it’s opening in 1965 as part of Mylan Pharmaceuticals.