Feds offer more benefits to 390 laid-off Pfizer workers

Nearly 400 former workers at Pfizer Inc., including some who were working at the Groton laboratories as contractors for ExecuPharm Inc., have been told they qualify for federal benefits after their jobs were moved overseas.

The U.S. Department of Labor, in a decision released this week, said 390 workers who were laid off after Sept. 5, 2011, or who are facing job separations through Oct. 25, 2014, are eligible for so-called Trade Adjustment Assistance, which includes extended unemployment benefits, relocation payments, help with tuition and, in some cases, wage subsidies.

The determination that Execu Pharm workers were eligible for federal benefits followed an investigation by the Labor Department that showed workers for the contracting company were employed on-site at Pfizer's Groton campus, rather than working independently, according to documents.

"The department has determined that these workers were sufficiently under the control of Pfizer ... to be considered leased workers," said certifying officer Michael W. Jaffe of the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, in his decision.

Workers provided research support as well as animal care and husbandry services.

Pfizer in February 2011 announced that 1,100 jobs would be eliminated at its Groton labs. A few hundred of those jobs had been moved to Cambridge, Mass., by the end of last year, but others were eliminated, including those in the company's antibacterials unit. Pfizer at first announced that the antibacterials group would be moving to China, but later decided to simply abandon research for new antibiotic agents.

A previous determination by the Labor Department, issued in December 2011, had said antibacterials workers, chemists and material managers in Groton who were laid off due to job shifts overseas also were eligible for benefits. This determination covered 568 people who lost jobs starting July 8, 2010, and running through December of this year.

Other layoffs have involved researchers and those helping coordinate Pfizer's global supply chain, according to Labor Department documents.

Total layoffs at Pfizer associated with shifts of jobs to China and the United Kingdom total more than 1,100, according to The Hartford Courant.

The Courant cited one petition that could not be located online which stated that Pfizer's outsourcing efforts in chemistry "have increased exponentially ... (starting) with simple tasks and end(ing) up with outsourcing of major job efforts."

l.howard@theday.com

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