MORGANTONW, W.Va. — The United Steelworkers union (USW) applauded the West Virginia House of Delegates passage of House Resolution 24, Friday, which urges Gov. Jim Justice to help save the Viatris generic pharmaceutical facility in Morgantown.
The plant, formerly owned by Mylan, is slated to close July 31. The current owner, Viatris, was established on Nov. 16, 2020, when Mylan combined with Upjohn, a business spun off from Pfizer. Viatris announced on Dec. 11 that it would permanently close the Morgantown facility and lay off approximately 1,500 workers, including some 850 members of USW Local 8-957.
The resolution that passed the West Virginia House urges the governor to form a task force with congressional representatives, labor organizations, and other industry leaders to call on the president to invoke the Defense Production Act and save jobs at the plant. The resolution passed in the State Senate on March 19.
When the announcement was made in December, Gov. Justice released a statement that Viatris was committed to working with him to help preserve the jobs at the plant.
“We’re proud of what we do and remain committed to using our skill, dedication and hard work to help supply our country’s critical needs,” said USW Local 8-975 President Joseph Gouzd. “We are grateful to our representatives in both chambers for recognizing how vital this plant is for our community. We now call on Gov. Justice to intervene to help save our jobs.”
Echoing the union’s national security concerns over losing a major domestic source of generic pharmaceuticals, the resolution also recognizes how essential it is to make medical supplies in the United States, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our country has pressing needs that we are well equipped to help meet,” said Gouzd. “We just have to have the chance.”
In March, the USW met with U.S. Congressional members to ask for their help.