An undisclosed number of Aetna Inc. employees, including case managers, received layoff notices Wednesday at the health insurer’s Blue Bell office. One employee said that seven out of 18 supervisors lost their jobs, and each supervisor oversaw a staff of 15 to 20.
By today’s end, Munhall officials expect to know if private financing for a tax anticipation loan will be available to the borough, averting the need for layoffs of police and public works employees.
Council was forced in recent weeks to advertise for private financing after it could not get a regular bank loan because the borough did not have its annual audits for 2011 and 2012 performed by an independent auditor and filed with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
That revelation is one of a number of surprises that council members say they’ve faced since Matt Galla abruptly resigned as borough manager June 17. The other surprises include the fact that appropriate pension contributions were not made to employee pension plans in 2011 and 2012, that many borough records, including employees’ salary histories, are gone from the borough offices, and that the borough lost $360,000 in regional asset district funds.
Since June, two interim managers and a certified public accountant have been trying to reconstruct the borough’s records. That reconstruction has shown that Mr. Galla may have paid himself more than his approved $60,000 salary.
The layoffs, which cut 2 percent of the membership club’s U.S. employee count of about 116,000, mark the largest since 2010 when the Sam’s Club unit laid off 10,000 workers as it moved to outsource food demonstrations at its stores.
The cuts come as Sam’s Club strives to compete better with Costco Wholesale Corp. and online players like Amazon.com’s Prime membership service. They also follow layoffs announced by several other major retailers in recent weeks that include Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney and Target Corp.
Struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney Co. announced it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores – including its stores in Exton and Burlington – as it tries to get back on the path to profitability.
The news raises concerns that Penney’s holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results.
J.C. Penney said earlier this month said it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.
Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores.
Macy’s Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability.
The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season for the department store chain.
Macy’s said Wednesday that it will reassign or transfer some workers and add some positions, leaving its workforce level at about 175,000.
The Cincinnati-based company plans to close five stores and open eight others, leaving it with 844 stores nationwide once the changes are complete.
If there was any doubt that the Allentown School District will impose layoffs as itgrapples with a $10.6 million shortfall next year, those doubts were all but erased tonight.
The school board considered a preliminary budget that could be described — officials hope — as a worst-case scenario: a $6.1 million cut to salaries, and a 9 percent property tax increase.
Those will almost certainly change by the time the final budget is passed in June. A preliminary budget is required this month by state law, and it must be balanced, so the district includes cuts to satisfy that deadline and then changes them later.
But if the $6.1 million salaries cut stays in place, with a district average salary of $65,000, it could mean at least 94 jobs getting eliminated, school union President Debra Tretter said.
Ten years and four months ago, then-Mayor Tom Murphy stood before a cadre of media to deliver grim news.
By the time he stepped up to speak, eyes moistened with tears, Pittsburgh city government had been sputtering along like an airplane held together by duct tape, according to a former finance director. But now the plane was about to take a nose dive — with the possibility of bankruptcy hovering.
“I hate doing this,” Mr. Murphy told the reporters.
He announced plans to lay off 731 city workers — including police officers — and leave hundreds more positions unfilled. All but six city pools would be drained and closed early — along with 19 recreation centers that were, in many places, critical gathering spots for sports and community events. Later that year, the city’s credit rating would be downgraded, making it the only major American city whose debt was rated “junk.” A fifth of the city’s budget went to pay off old debt.
HAZLETON, PA — About 50 of the city’s 110 employees might be furloughed as early as Monday and the city is in danger of defaulting on its bills because of a $500,000 budget deficit.
At a press conference Monday, Mayor Joe Yannuzzi unveiled the latest in a string of the city’s financial woes that started last year when it had to raise the real estate tax by 45 percent. As it stands, non-essential employees — primarily office personnel and some public works employees — will not show up for work Monday and City Hall will be closed.
Firefighters and police will work regular shifts and road crews will still plow snow from the streets, Yannuzzi said.
The drugmaker Merck & Co. will lay off 500 people from its facility in West Point, Montgomery County, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5.
Merck said on Oct. 1 that it would eliminate 8,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce beyond the 7,500 it had not yet cut from an earlier restructuring plan, but company officials were not specific about where and when.
Several big pharmaceutical companies with operations in the area are cutting jobs. Message boards devoted to Merck have been full of discussions about which units would lose people, but official public notice of the 500 job cuts at the West Point facility came because of a federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
The $1.8 billion charge U.S. Steel announced Friday is the first of several moves that industry analysts expect new CEO Mario Longhi will make to revitalize a company that has not had a profitable year since 2008.
Mr. Longhi, who took over Sept. 1 for John P. Surma, has been given a mandate to drastically slash costs and increase efficiency. So far, the former Alcoa executive has been largely silent about how he intends to do that. But analysts expect Mr. Longhi to rip a page from the playbook that most new CEOs rely on by getting the bad news out of the way early in his tenure.
Among the measures analysts expect is shutting at least one of the company’s plants. They cite the glut of current capacity as well as new mills being built that are targeting one of U.S. Steel’s most profitable markets: tubular products used in the oil and gas industry.
“We remain in a structurally over-supplied market,” said analyst Gordon Johnson of Axiom Capital Management in New York City. “Supply is going to continue to grow at an unhealthy clip.”
Merck & Co, taking a cue from other drugmakers that have slashed research spending to bolster earnings, on Tuesday said it plans to slash 8,500 jobs and cut annual operating costs by $2.5 billion by the end of 2015.
The job cuts announced Tuesday, representing more than 10 percent of the company’s global workforce of 81,000 employees, would be in addition to previously announced cuts of 7,500 positions.
Merck has 11,700 employees at seven sites in Pennsylvania, including those working in West Point and Upper Gwynedd in Montgomery County. Spokeswoman Lainie Keller said the job cuts are companywide and could not say how many would affect the Pennsylvania sites.
By slimming down, Merck aims to narrow its focus to products with the best chance of winning regulatory approval and achieving substantial sales, while jettisoning research products with less likelihood of success.
Walgreens will close its distribution center in Hanover Township, Northampton County, marking one of the largest layoffs in the Lehigh Valley in recent years.
The facility’s 400 employees will be laid off in phases, beginning in mid-January and concluding in March. Employees at the center, at 125 Commerce Way in Lehigh Valley Industrial Park IV, were informed of the decision Thursday.
“Our Lehigh Valley Distribution Center has served the company since 1991, making the decision to close it a difficult one,” Emily Hartwig of Walgreens corporate media relations said Friday.
Hartwig said the layoffs are part of the drugstore chain’s effort to maximize efficiencies at its distribution centers across the region.
With its enrollment battered by the recent elimination of federal aid to students who lack high school diplomas, the Pennsylvania School of Business in Allentown will close next year, the school announced Thursday.
“We lost 50 percent of our incoming people,” PSB President Michael O’Brien said.
While it enrolled all types of students, the school specialized in helping those without high school degrees, O’Brien said. With federal aid to those students eliminated as of July 1, 2012, enrollment plunged. Over the last few days, school officials decided to close the doors in January, after the fall semester.
O’Brien informed students of the decision Thursday.
The announcement comes a month after Clarion University announced plans to cut up to 40 jobs, including 22 faculty, and suspending music education, German and French courses. The schools are two of 14 that comprise the State System of Higher Education. Kutztown University is one of the 14.
NEW YORK — AOL Inc. is laying off up to half the workforce at its Patch local news sites and shuttering or consolidating roughly 150 of the 900 sites while looking for partners for others.
Up to 500 of Patch’s 1,000 employees will go in the layoffs, which started on Friday with 350 people getting pink slips. In all, the layoffs amount to about 9 percent of AOL’s total workforce of 5,500.
AOL Inc. CEO Tim Armstrong co-founded Patch, an ambitious experiment in local news meant to compete with newspapers, in 2007. AOL bought it in 2009 after Tim Armstrong had taken over the helm of the New York-based Internet company.
Clarion University plans to let go up to 40 employees campuswide — including 22 faculty — and dissolve its college of education under a broad restructuring intended to offset sharply lower state aid, rising costs and enrollment losses.
The job cuts are part of a two-year workforce plan that university president Karen Whitney and other administrators say was drafted to help Clarion correct budget problems and position the state-owned university with 6,500 students for the future.
The plan discusses areas where Clarion intends to add resources, among them nursing, and other areas recommended for elimination, including music education. It says departments and programs within Clarion’s College of Education and Human Services would be reorganized into other schools.
The idea is to ensure that Clarion by July 1, 2015, can meet future challenges and “continue serving students, employers and community partners as a public university,” the 32-page document states.
Editor’s note: Not off to the greatest start!
The new owners of the H.J. Heinz Co. are eliminating 600 office positions across the Pittsburgh company’s operations in the U.S. and Canada – including 350 jobs in Pittsburgh — as a move toward a more efficient operation.
A company spokesman this morning confirmed reports that layoffs had begun in Pittsburgh this week, about two months after the close of the $28 billion sale of the historic food company to 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway.
The cuts here will take Heinz employment in the region down from close to 1,200 to about 800.
“As part of our transition to a private company, the senior leadership team has examined every piece of our business to better position Heinz for accelerated growth in a very competitive global market,” said Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs.
Reading Health System plans to build a $354 million clinical building on its West Reading campus, a move hospital officials say could keep more Berks County patients in the area for their medical care.
“What we’re really doing is upgrading what we currently have and bringing some of our facilities into the 21st century,” said Mark McNash, vice president of support services for the Reading Health System. ”We’re excited to offer state-of-the-art surgical facilities for the community.”
Construction of the eight-story building on Seventh Avenue and Parkside Drive will begin in September. It will take three years to complete, McNash said.
Health system officials say they are undertaking the ambitious and expensive project because the hospital building is outdated in some respects.
Dr. Carlinda Purcell waited until the very last minute – literally.
At 4:59 p.m., just moments before a 5 p.m. deadline, the Reading School District superintendent sent an email to school board members with a proposal to close a gap in the district’s 2013-14 budget.
The deadline was set at a meeting Tuesday night after Purcell told the board the $213.6 million budget that was passed June 28 had a $180,000 hole. The announcement drew criticism from board members frustrated by the budget process and a demand that the administration fix the problem by the end of the business day Wednesday.
James Washington II, board vice president, confirmed he received an email from Purcell at 4:59 p.m.
In the Wilkinsburg School District, almost half of students don’t graduate.
A third of students have been involved in incidents that threatened school safety. On state tests, 86.4 percent of 11th graders aren’t proficient in math and 68.3 percent aren’t proficient in reading.
The district is hemorrhaging students to charter schools. It borrowed $3 million for general operating expenses and has furloughed about 80 teachers in the past three years.
Some residents are taken aback when asked for their assessment of the district, seeing it as self-evident that the district has already fallen off the cliff.
“Honestly, it’s too far gone,” said Wilkinsburg resident Stephanie Shea. ”Code blue happened a while ago. At this point, it needs to be totally dismantled.”