MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With just days to go until the Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant closure, Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer is doing everything she can to help save the jobs of roughly 1,500 employees.
“I think that we should keep trying, keep advocating,” Fleischauer said.
The Mylan plant is slated to close Saturday, July 31, and Fleischauer said the company has already started laying off employees.
“I have heard that from the Union president that people were told to go home on Wednesday after the night shift,” Fleischauer said. “And yeah, I think that they’re expecting everybody to be done except for a skeleton crew to, you know, maintain things by Saturday, just like they said.”
Fleischauer, recently, penned a letter to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) asking for its help to designate the former Mylan Pharmaceuticals plant as critical to the national security infrastructure. She wants CISA to step in because once the plant is designated as critical to the national security infrastructure, the planned closure can be avoided.
Saving these jobs, Fleischauer said, is not just a matter of helping constituents. In many cases, it’s about helping people she knows personally.
“I do know them,” she said. “I do know a lot of them. And these are people who devoted themselves to their jobs. They loved their jobs, they were just, you know, they felt it gave their lives importance. Because they were doing something for our community and, actually, for our country, especially with what we know about the contamination in India and China. These people were part of what should be our national security and our public health security, so it is extremely heart-wrenching.”
It’s devastating to think about the job losses because it directly affects not only the employees but their family’s lives.
There are families, Fleischauer said, who may have been saving to send a child or children to college, and that will no longer be possible. They are going to have to say “no, not now”, she said.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“A lot of people are going to lose their vehicles,” Fleischauer said. “They’re going to have to go down to two or one or zero. People aren’t going to be able to make new purchases. People are going to move from this community. It is going to be extremely damaging to this community, to the welfare of this community. Gas stations, bars, restaurants, hair salons, people aren’t going to be able to afford to get a haircut. You know, they’re going to have to be thinking about how can I cut back because there’s no way I’m going to have a job that could anytime soon.”
Fleischauer is not in the fight to save Mylan on her own. In fact, both Congressman David McKinley and Sen. Joe Manchin have already penned their own letters to CISA.
Governor Jim Justice, even, wrote a letter directly to President Joe Biden.
“I’m really grateful to Congressman McKinley who did his right away and I’m grateful to both of them,” Fleischauer said. “I mean, this is something that none of us ever heard of before CISA — this Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency. But, I wish they had jumped on a little bit earlier. I wish all of us had known this earlier because it may be too late. I hope it’s not too late.”
Fleischauer said only the federal government can save Mylan right now, whether it be through CISA, or President Biden, himself.
She said Biden oversees CISA because it’s a federal agency, so he wields the most power to act now before it’s too late.
“I wish he could come here and see that plant,” Fleischauer said. “It’s a really cool plant. It’s state of the art. I remember when I did it. It’s got a funnel that’s five stories tall. It’s an amazing place and it would be as same if it were shipped off it, shrink-wrapped, you know when we need antibiotics here. We need insulin to be made here.”
Fleischauer said she is grateful for all efforts made by politicians and non-politicians to save Mylan and she hopes they will keep fighting until the last minute. She said she will keep fighting to get answers from the federal government and to do anything possible to save Mylan.
“I think that we need an answer in this community. Can it be designated as critical infrastructure? And if so, let’s do it ASAP.”