Dominion Resources is continuing to cut jobs from the area, according to the president of United Gas Workers Local 69-2 of the Service Employees International Union, Charlie Rittenhouse.
But spokespersons from Dominion say jobs will not necessarily leave the area and that Dominion will benefit local counties in the long run.
Rittenhouse said Dominion has informed the local they intend to shut down a Clarksburg print shop and move it to Richmond, Va. The shop has four employees. Rittenhouse said Dominion will keep one and "have to figure out what to do with three of them."
"I don't quite agree with their statements there will be 'no significant impact' on employment in Clarksburg," Rittenhouse said.
According to Bob Fulton, spokesperson for Dominion, it is the decision of the four workers whether they leave the area.
"They have the option to apply for other union positions under the current contract," said Fulton. "It could be in Clarksburg or another area where Dominion Transmission operates."
With the loss of 18 positions at Dominion's Clarksburg call center, 18 positions eliminated at Dominion Transmission Inc. in Lewis County and attrition (vacated positions/ retirements that have not been replaced), Rittenhouse estimated 60 positions have been eliminated in Harrison and Lewis counties since the merger.
"They're just slowly taking bits and pieces," he said.
But Fulton pointed out that several area workers at Dominion opted to take early retirement.
He also said the company has been bringing in new workers from Pittsburgh and Cleveland for new positions in Dominion "Centers of Excellence." These centers provide the heart of information for certain divisions at Dominion, Fulton said.
Mark Lezenby, spokesperson for Dominion, said officials from Dominion cannot specify the exact number of jobs being eliminated in each of the five states where the company has significant operations because the process of notifications and reductions is ongoing.
He did say "the restructuring and realignment of jobs is meant to improve customer service and efficiency."
According to Lezenby, competition is increasing with market deregulation and the restructuring is intended to accommodate this competition. He said Dominion's January merger with Consolidated Natural Gas of Pittsburgh has created an "economic force for good" in West Virginia.
Lezenby also pointed out Dominion is planning to invest $1 billion in the state for different projects over the next few years. "This is the best economic news to come to West Virginia in a long time," said Lezenby. "We want this to be a program of growth and investment."
Dominion announced in April 700 positions were expected to be eliminated as part of the "post-merger integration," that according to a Dominion press release, was "expected to save $75 million in 2000 through job reductions, consolidations, improved efficiencies and advanced technology."
Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1446.