By Shereen Siewert

3M, which operates plants in about two dozen cities nationwide including Wausau, will eliminate 1,500 jobs amid a U.S. manufacturing slump, company officials announced Tuesday.

The cuts will span “all business groups, functions and geographies” and is projected to save the company $120 million per year.

The number of Wausau employees impacted by the job cuts is not yet known.

Once named the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, 3M has been operating in Wausau since 1929 and employs about 150 people.

The company employs about 96,000 people and laid off about 2,000 workers in April.

Industrial and safety sales fell 4.8% from last year over the fourth quarter, 3M said, while transportation and electronics revenues were down 6.2%. Health care was the company’s bright spot, with revenues rising 25.4%

The latest round of job cuts equates to about 1.5% of 3M’s global workforce, and CEO Michael Roman said the cuts will occur across all business groups and geographies.

“Organic growth company-wide in the fourth quarter was minus 2.6%, in line with our guidance,” Roman said in a conference call with analysts. “We continued to face softness in certain end markets, namely China, automotive, and electronics, which impacted overall growth.”

Earlier this month, the Institute for Supply Management reported that U.S. manufacturing activity fell to the lowest level in more than a decade. A survey by the association of purchasing managers found that companies are uncertain about trade and are seeing weak demand from abroad.

3M, a Dow component, is also grappling with the environmental cleanup associated with some of its products, including PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam, nonstick pots and pans, water-repellent clothing and many other household and personal items. They are frequently deemed “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment.

Studies have associated certain PFAS chemicals with increased risk of cancer and damage to organs such as the liver and thyroid. The company’s Wausau location scores particularly high in toxic emissions and is listed as the top polluter of all the company’s locations nationwide, based on the facility’s toxic score.

The company booked a pre-tax charge of $214 million in the fourth quarter related to those environmental efforts.

The latest round of job cuts are part of a new operating model starting this month that will recast reporting lines and consolidate manufacturing oversight, 3M said in a statement Tuesday.

The Wausau plant, at 144 E. Rosecrans St., is the company’s oldest operating manufacturing facility in the world.

 

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