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Greenfield plant recalls 80 laid-off workers

By Richie Davis

07/13/2009- Daily Hampshire Gazette

About 80 Kennametal workers will return to work today, ending layoffs that have ranged from three to six months.

The returning workers at the former Greenfield Tap and Die plant represent nearly all of those who have been on extended furlough, according to corporate spokeswoman Christina Reitano.

Among those returning will be Joseph Malinowski of Greenfield, an inspector who has worked for the tap-and-die manufacturer since 1955, when it employed about 1,500 workers in factories on Sanderson and Meridian streets.

"I just hope when we do open, we'll be here for the long haul," said Malinowski, who is in his early 70s and anticipates retirement before too long. "I'd like to see all of the people getting up there in age retire from there," he said. "And we've got to keep Greenfield Tap and Die here for the employment and for tax-wise, too."

United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 274 representative Shawn Coates of Greenfield said Kennametal was putting workers on week-long furloughs in January and February before deciding in March to call for a general layoff originally for six weeks, but then for eight weeks.

The manufacturer of machine-cutting tools had told workers they might be called back in mid-June, and then this week, depending on demand for its products.

"It's good news," said UE Field Organizer David Cohen, who said production and shipping workers were sent notices in recent weeks confirming the July 13 start date.

Despite serious difficulties in the automotive industry, which accounts for about 11 percent of company sales, the Pennsylvania-based company has said repeatedly that it has no intention of selling the tap business and intends to continue to sell taps under the GTD brand. Malinowski, who was among those laid off in April, said some of his fellow workers have used the time to paint their houses and do other maintenance projects. He played some golf and did some fishing, but not as much as he would have liked.

"It was nice to have the summer off, except for the weather," he said. "I was just hanging around. You can't do this forever."