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Exide to idle plant in Laureldale, lay off 150 workers

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Nov 08 2012 05:32:05 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 09 2012 09:26:28 AM CST

Exide to lay off 150 employees

LAURELDALE, Pa. -

Exide Technologies said it's laying off 150 employees at its facility in Laureldale, leaving only about 25 working there after March.

Exide used to be known for making lead acid batteries, but two years ago, it laid off 125 employees and stopped that part of its operation.

Now, the company recycles lead acid batteries and plastics. Company officials told employees Thursday that it won't be recycling lead acid batteries in Laureldale in the coming months.

Exide Technologies has been a manufacturing fixture in Berks County for a long time.

"We have a plaque on a building on our Reading site that says it's been there since 1890," said Susan Jaramillo, Exide spokeswoman.

For years, Exide employees were seen regularly at the plant and around the neighborhood businesses.

"Six years ago we used to be busy here all the time --anywhere from 5:00 to 8:00 at night," said Chris Davis, a bartender at the nearby Freymoyer's Hotel and Restaurant.

Davis said business took a hit when Exide had massive layoffs in 2010.

"When they first laid everybody off, it hurt us a little bit, but they still used to come in here. About 20 or 30 of them still come in here and hang out," said Davis. "But with them not there, I don't think they'll be able to make it. It's hard enough to get a job around here as is."

Exide made the decision because of the lead markets and because it would be too costly to bring the Laureldale plant up to regulations, Jaramillo said.

"This was in no way reflective of our Reading employees," said Jaramillo. "They've been dedicated for many, many, many years."

"People around here are already having a hard enough time," said Davis. "I hear a lot of drama stories, especially being a bartender. Hopefully, they'll keep their heads up."

Exide said it will maintain its permits to recycle batteries after March 2013, but in the future, the company said it doesn't know if it would bring back those operations or whether it will leave the Reading area completely.