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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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August 1, 2013

Merck Cuts Coming? Or Not?

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Posted by Derek

This has just shown up in the comments section, so I wanted to note it out here on the front page. The New Jersey state workforce directory lists Merck as notifying them that they plan to eliminate up to 113 jobs in Kenilworth, with an effective date of October 1.

I don't know what the follow-through is on notices like this, or the legal consequences thereof. And there's certainly nothing in there about what sorts of reductions these might be. But it's worth noting that the company has at least filed the paperwork - has anyone in Kenilworth heard more?

Comments (25) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Zorkbirder on August 1, 2013 10:06 AM writes...

Kenilworth, MRL and all of Merck have been told the company is optimizing the size and structure of the company and to expect organizational changes in the fall. Exactly how many positions will be eliminated and where within the company is subject to many anxious speculations...

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2. SteveM on August 1, 2013 10:22 AM writes...

Just in time for a huge H-1B inject that the Crony Capitalists are pumping for in the immigration "reform" law.

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3. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 10:51 AM writes...

@2: Inspiring insight! I am late at work this morning, and I am going to blame on the immigration "reform" law as well. So easy, it's done!

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4. Hap on August 1, 2013 11:33 AM writes...

@3: Perhaps learning cause and effect might be a useful tool for you?

If you're going to get cheaper labor in supply, well, then keeping more expensive labor makes little sense, depending on how much firing costs you, and the skills content of the potential hires. So, a new H1B bill might indeed lead to layoffs. Companies interested in hiring immigrants under a new policy wouldn't want their layoffs to be too big or public, because someone who could do something in Congress might notice and connect the immigration policy to their employment.

Unless cities are delaying road construction because they expect less tax money (thus showing long-term planning not normally seen) or the incipient immigrants are already flooding the roads, your example doesn't make much sense. If you're going to whine about immigration complaints, the least you could do is make sense.

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5. Anon on August 1, 2013 12:34 PM writes...

The plan was to give an automatic green card to anyone with a PhD that can find a job in the US. Those are pretty specific and extremely relaxed requirements. It doesn't take an economist to figure out that will lead to more PhD degree mills and a large influx of individuals who will take anything they can get (low salary, reduced benefits, etc.) which will cause domestic salaries and job security to drop even further.

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6. ed silverman on August 1, 2013 12:51 PM writes...

Hi Derek,

I noticed that as well and so asked a Merck spokesman, who said this notice was related to a notice filed with state authorities last December, which numbered 150 jobs to be eliminated from Kenilworth. I asked for further clarity as to why this sort of overlap would occur, but no response on that point.

Ed Silverman

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7. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 1:42 PM writes...

Probably not research related layoff. Company does not need to post notice if it provides the employees with more than 60 days of advanced notice or compensation.

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8. Wile E. Coyote, Genius on August 1, 2013 1:46 PM writes...

As far as the immigration bill is concerned, I think that they should grant status to anyone that has an MBA - US granted or not. Seems that upper management in any given large corporation is overpaid, and a bit of competition would be a good thing for them. Couldn't be in any worse shape than we're currently in.

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9. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 1:50 PM writes...

113 manufacturing jobs gone at Kenilworth.

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10. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 2:14 PM writes...

@ Hap: Thank you for doing the "cause and effect" thing for me.

Merck may lay off its employees because it is under pressure from its investors (people like you and me who read our quarterly 401K and pension reports). The reason it is under pressure is because its earning is flat and its pipeline is dry. You want to help those Merck employees? Go make a drug or two, or cancel your investments....

For the folks who would like to discuss immigration "reform" bill, see comment 2.

To Hap, no disrespect, but unlike you I don't try to make sense of nonsense.

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11. dearieme on August 1, 2013 2:17 PM writes...

"Merck Cuts Coming?" Isn't that always true, axiomatically?

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12. NMH on August 1, 2013 2:24 PM writes...

Congress might as well offer Green Cards to anybody who gets a PhD in China...

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13. Hap on August 1, 2013 2:36 PM writes...

If this had been a research layoff, then H1B visa issues would be relevant (and may be for future ones), but probably isn't now. Sorry.

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14. tim on August 1, 2013 3:21 PM writes...

@2 etc I'm from Canada and I contribute

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15. anonymous on August 1, 2013 5:14 PM writes...

Just wait a bit. Once it looks like the immigration bill can get past the house (or at least the H1B part) I'm sure there'll be some notices sent.

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16. Anonymous on August 1, 2013 7:30 PM writes...

@2 and others: and to think that every single one of you has ALL his/her ancestors originating from foreign countries...

Like @14, I contribute by being a productive, tax-paying member of this society.

Immigration is what made this nation great rather than mediocre.

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17. Oligodendrocyte expert on August 2, 2013 12:07 AM writes...

"They died building the railroads, they worked to bones and skin.
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind.
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they're still dying now.
(Bruce Springsteen, AMERICAN LAND)

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18. anonymous on August 2, 2013 6:55 AM writes...

Sadly, this is just a foreshadowing of the next round of layoffs (i.e., "leftovers" from the last round)...which WON'T BE PRETTY

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19. Merck on August 2, 2013 7:18 AM writes...

113? That's no more than a rounding-off error my friends.

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20. Anonymous on August 2, 2013 8:16 AM writes...

Why don't we discuss layoffs rather than immigration. I have noted that many have become particularly touchy to the subject. We can continue to discuss the merits & demerits of H1B's ad nauseum, but only push ourselves to the brink of short-sightedness / narrow-mindedness, at the very least or racial bigotry at the other extreme. As educated people & presumably rationale individuals, do we really want to go there?

The sad part is people are getting laid off. We don't know whether they are scientists or sales people or operational folks or drivers & mechanics of the Merck fleet, whether they are permanent residents or guest workers, whether they are being offered a role in a different site at all.

All we know at this point of time is that they are getting laid off!

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21. Hap on August 2, 2013 9:28 AM writes...

I know we need immigrants for lots of things, and that they have generally been good for us - I just mind playing an economic game where the rules are stacked against me (if there's enough labor in my field, I get paid little if at all, and if there isn't, we can just get more, cheaply, and in hock, from somewhere else). In addition, those rules will work for those who come here as well, so all that talent we get will probably join their friends on the unemployment line when their five years are up, so we won't really be using their talents, either.

As for getting laid off, it's never good, but it depends on who and what they do how bad it is - some people may be able to find other things to do that are better, and some may not. I don't know.

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22. Anon on August 2, 2013 11:35 AM writes...

Who knows? Some may use it as the perfect opportunity to get the hell out of New Jersey.

The ultimate blessing in disguise!

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23. milkshaken on August 2, 2013 1:20 PM writes...

...or to get out of medicinal chemistry. As the hangman says to the condemned man on the scaffolding, "don't be afraid, this is a blessing in disguise"

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24. kemist on August 4, 2013 10:45 AM writes...

Remember, if u see a job posted over and over, when u know there are many qualified local candidates, its just a justification for an H1B hire. You can visit a website where H1B hires are posted by law, gives company names, salary etc. Expose these traitors!

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25. startup on August 5, 2013 5:00 PM writes...

Surely it's going to be at least a thousand?

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