TWO STATE legislators are targeting Gov. John Kasich as the major reason why Ormet Corp. is closing up shop. State Rep. Jack Cera and State Sen. Lou Gentile are accurate with their blame aim.
Both hold Gov. Kasich accountable for not doing more to keep the Monroe County plant operating. Ormet officials announced Friday that it would cease operations. That sobering development came on the heels of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's ruling on Ormet's electric-rate reduction request.
The aluminum-maker made no bones that it needed to have its rate cut from $60 to $45.89 to keep stay in business. PUCO ruled a week a week ago that Ormet's rate would drop to $50. It was a sizable drop. It was one, however, not palatable to Ormet offcials, triggering the closure announcement. That was followed by finger-pointing, with many directed toward Kasich.
"The workers and retirees at Ormet have made significant concessions in wages and benefits to put this company in a position to be successful," said Sen. Gentile, D-Steubenville. "The Kasich administration failed to uphold their end of the deal. The workers, families and communities in the Ohio Valley deserve better."
Cera was in full agreement.
"For nearly a year, I have expressed to the Kasich administration the importance of these jobs and the devastating impact it would have if they did not provide Ormet with a reasonable power agreement," Rep. Cera, D-Bellaire, said. "Now, their actions have jeopardized nearly a thousand jobs, the future of the Switzerland of Ohio School District and the stability of local governments that rely upon Ormet's tax base."
Rob Nichols, press secretary for Kasich, said, "the governor is committed to continuing to work with Monroe County to find the right solution moving forward."
Such a statement is comparable to closing the door after the horses had left the barn.
Nichols added that officials are determined to help Eastern Ohio cope with the loss of Ormet as much as they can. He noted the administration also offered advice and support Monday to those at the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services One Stop center in Woodsfield.
If Kasich and his staff were proactive and supportive BEFORE the PUCO decision, they would not be picking up the pieces of a broken business.
Retraining for new jobs is not what Ormet workers want. Rather, they want their livelihood back. Nearly 1,000 employees have lost well-paying jobs; jobs that help raise families, fuel the local economy and support a school district.
It is doubtful that the displaced workers will ever find quality employment like they had at Ormet.
The support being offered by the Kasich administration rings hollow. Kasich should have stepped to the plate much earlier and with a bigger bat.