Seventy unemployed after Midstate Berkshire consolidates in Winslow

Low oil prices and a declining market for military defense weapons come as good news to the majority of Americans. However, for the employees of gas and weapons manufacturers around the country, this development is a cause for concern. With oil prices reaching decade lows and the demand for military defense weapons declining with them, business demand for manufacturers across the country has severely diminished. The employees are the ones taking the brunt of this hit for the manufacturers, as they are losing jobs at an alarming rate.

Such is the case at Midstate Berkshire, a central Maine manufacturer of precision parts for aerospace, defense and oil industries. In the past week, the corporation has been forced to cut 70 employees from its Waterville and Winslow locations, accounting for an astounding 30 percent of their overall workers. The layoffs were a direct reaction to the recent decline in the company’s three focal markets—oil and gas, power generation and defense.

In light of these discouraging market trends, the company found it in their best interest to downsize their staff and consolidate their two Maine locations. By eliminating their Waterville plant and consolidating headquarters in Winslow, Midstate Berkshire will be causing significant financial harm to the city they are leaving behind. The Kennebec Journal recently headlined that the “Midstate Berkshire move to Winslow could cost Waterville $120,000.”

This financial devastation would largely come from the annual property tax revenue that Midstate Berkshire brought to the city. Beyond the immediate loss of tax money, the town will undoubtedly feel the wider effects of having 70 newly unemployed citizens.

Kimberly Lindlof, the interim executive director at the Central Maine Growth Council, explained that, “salaries at Midstate Berkshire were high, especially in comparison to other jobs in the area. Having so many previously well-paid workers going unemployed at once will create a ripple effect in the local economy.” Lindlof’s goal is to have all of these citizens reemployed as soon as possible. One way she is going about this is by connecting former employees with leads on potential jobs in the region.

It is difficult to criticize Midstate Berkshire for their decision-making, as severe market trends essentially forced the company to make decisions that nobody ever wants to make. As devastating as the news must have been for these workers, it was not without a heavy heart that Midstate Berkshire made the layoffs. The company prides itself on having good relationships with employees, their website proclaiming: “Midstate Berkshire is proud of the many skilled, experienced professionals who work at our facilities. These talented individuals are exceptional at their jobs, and allow us to be the renowned manufacturing company that we are.”

It is clear that Midstate Berkshire respects and admires the hard work and commitment that their employees show. The company has publicly said that they hope to rehire as many employees as possible once the market conditions improve.

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