Delaware political leaders fight to strengthen DuPont

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 The company name of DuPont appears above its trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The company name of DuPont appears above its trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

On the heels of the announcement of DuPont’s plan to lay off hundreds of employees, Delaware’s political leaders are fighting to keep the company alive and well in the state.

On Tuesday, DuPont announced it would lay off 1,700 Delaware workers. The cuts come as part of DuPont’s efforts to reduce $700 million in costs ahead of its planned merger with Dow Chemical, which was announced earlier this month.

U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, as well as Congressman John Carney, have had several conference calls and in-person conversations with Gov. Jack Markell to debate and discuss their next steps to address DuPont’s fall.

Coons said the discussion has largely been focused on fair treatment of pensioners and the effort to keep a merged DuPont headquartered in Delaware.  

“I have worked very hard on DuPont’s behalf over last five years in the Senate on issues of particular concern to them—tax trade, intellectual property—and I’m very disappointed as a result to see DuPont take this change in direction,” Coons said.

“It’s my hope given the long and strong relationship Sen. Carper, Congressman Carney and I have had with DuPont that we’ll be able to engage with them in a positive direction and at the very least we will hold them accountable for what they do to Delaware and Delaware’s pensioners, and those who have long relied on DuPont for a strong retirement.”

He said the General Assembly may take legislative action early next year in an effort to provide support and resources to workers, and to try and support the growth of DuPont and incentivize the retention of DuPont jobs in Delaware.

“It’s my hope and expectation Gov. Markell and his team at (the Delaware Economic Development Office) and Department of Labor will be leading that work,” he said.

He said the news both surprised and upset him as he was previously hopeful the company would stabilize under new leadership.

Coons calls the layoffs a “serious blow” to Delaware’s economy, and said it’s going to be challenging for the state to find equivalent job opportunities within Delaware.

“We’ll work hard to connect them to business opportunities, to help to continue to grow our economy,” he said.

“For those of us who grew up in Delaware, have lived in Delaware, DuPont has been one of our most important central iconic companies and I’m hopeful we can still salvage a positive future for DuPont in Delaware, but this signals it will be exceptionally difficult.”

Mayor Dennis Williams, D-Wilmington, is just as concerned about Chemours, the performance-chemicals division that spun off from DuPont as an independent company after it laid off several of the unit’s workforce. He said he’s hoping to get a corporate tax bill tweaked that would keep 1,000 people in Wilmington through Chemours.

“If we don’t do it we’ll lose them also and there will be 1,000 jobs lost in the city of Wilmington and that will be devastating for us,” he said.

Williams said the news deeply saddened him, and said his heart goes out to those who have lost their job.

“DuPont has been an icon in Delaware and the city of Wilmington for over 200 years,” he said. “I’ve had relatives—well over 20—retire from DuPont and it’s sad. I hate to see all these folks lose their jobs, and it’s right around the holiday time and there’s people who have invested their lives in DuPont and now it’s over.”

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