DALTON -- There are 130 employees in Crane's Berkshire currency division who qualify for the voluntary retirement incentive that the company offered late last week, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.

The incentive program is designed to reduce the size of the division's workforce, but Crane officials have declined to say exactly how many positions they aim to eliminate.

A total of 341 employees work in Crane's Berkshire currency operation.

Berkshire County's largest paper manufacturer announced last week that it would institute the voluntary retirement incentive in response to a reduced paper demand from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The goal is to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs, the company has said.

According to information provided by some Crane employees, the company is hoping the retirement incentive will result in a minimum reduction to its Berkshire currency division workforce of 60 to 80 employees, with 80 expected.

But company spokesman Craig Conrad would not confirm those figures.

"I don't know if we have a target in mind, based on the short term," he said. "We won't know for a few weeks how many will want to take it."

The retirement incentive is a multifaceted program with limitations, and is based on employees' ages, Crane said last week. It was offered to employees on Feb. 7.

Conrad said Crane should know by "early March" how many employees are interested in taking the voluntary retirement incentive. He declined to speculate on whether Crane would institute layoffs if enough employees don't take the incentive.

"We'll see how many sign up for the voluntary retirement program and make an evaluation at that point," he said. "Based on the feedback there was significant interest. We've got to see how that plays out over the next two or three weeks."

The targeted retirement incentive does not affect Crane's other operations in Western Massachusetts, which includes the technical materials division based in Pittsfield, and the stationery division located in North Adams.

One of the county's largest employers, Crane has been supplying currency paper to the federal government since 1879, and has been its sole supplier since 1964.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6224