Mosaic workers cut from payroll

ggagliano@bradenton.comSeptember 10, 2010 

BRADENTON — Mosaic Corp. plans to cut 143 employees from its payroll, effective today, a spokesman for the fertilizer company says.

As a result of a court-ordered suspension placed on the company’s South Fort Meade mine in July, Mosaic notified the state it would have to lay off as many as 221 employees.

Mosaic’s 10,885-acre phosphate mine in Hardee County has been entangled in ongoing legal action since three environmental groups filed a lawsuit June 30 in the U.S. Middle District Court in Jacksonville against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The lawsuit — filed by the Sierra Club, Manasota-88 and People for Protecting the Peace — argues that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a mining permit to Mosaic without a proper environmental impact assessment.

The legal action led to a federal judge placing an injunction on mining operations. Mosaic in July notified the state layoffs would be necessary as a result of the injunction.

The 143 employees’ last day of work at the mine was Aug. 19, but Mosaic continued to pay staff through today, which is the date Mosaic listed as workers’ final date of employment in its layoff notice to the state.

“They’ve all been sent home already,” spokesman Russell Schweiss said. “We were able to find temporary assignments for 78 employees who received (layoff) notices. However, many of those placements have displaced full-time contractors, so job losses still occurred. ...”

Mosaic has an appeal pending in the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta on the judge’s injunction. A response from the appeals court is expected 30-45 days from when the appeal was filed Aug. 20.

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