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Eastman restructuring eliminates 40 jobs

Sharon Caskey Hayes • Nov 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Eastman Chemical Co.’s efforts to hold its 2009 budget to current levels will cost about 40 jobs by the end of the year.

Company spokesman Betty Payne said Eastman is undergoing a restructuring of its departmental budgets for next year, and managers have been told to keep their upcoming budgets flat from this year.

“Organizations are in the process of determining what’s appropriate for next year. And for some organizations, staff adjustments are part of that process as they restructure work and jobs in their areas to match what they can afford,” Payne said.

“Our challenge is to develop a budget that will allow Eastman to remain competitive in the coming year,” she said.

She said about 40 positions in non-operation departments will be cut as a result. Some jobs will be consolidated, while others will be eliminated through attrition.

She said Eastman is not holding companywide layoffs or offering early retirement packages to entice employees to leave.

“Some are retiring as positions are being consolidated in some areas,” Payne said.

“It’s all part of our targeted restructuring to get our budgets set for next year,” Payne said.

She said the company is adjusting to changing business conditions with risings costs and global economic uncertainties.

“Eastman people are working hard to hold expenses flat. We’re trying to be as efficient and as effective as we can,” she said.

Last month, Eastman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Ferguson told industry analysts that the company will weather the current economic crisis.

“As Brian has said, we’ve seen recessions before. We don’t know how long it will last or how bad it will get, but we’re getting ready for what possibly could be a bad one,” Payne said.

Still, she said, Eastman is in a better position than it was a decade ago. And its cash position is strong going forward, she said.

“We’re trying to be good stewards of what we have in keeping our expenses down,” she said.

Payne pointed out the company still employs more people now than it did last year.

Eastman employs about 7,000 people in Kingsport.

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