WASHINGTON — Pushed by budget cutbacks and membership departures, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. is eliminating about 10 percent of its staff, including several top officials.
The layoffs come as the group's budget is expected to be down next year. SPI is struggling with the loss of resin company membership as a fallout from its failed merger talks with the American Plastics Council, and the departure of business units such as the Composites Institute and the Polystyrene Packaging Council.
SPI spokeswoman Jennifer Dills said 11 positions at the Washington-based trade group are being eliminated, including some senior management, but she declined to identify specific people. Several SPI sources said the layoffs include Jerry Taylor, membership vice president, and Pat Toner, technical affairs vice president.
Dills said most of the layoffs were in administrative support positions. SPI announced the changes at a May 13 staff meeting.
Dills attributed the cuts to three factors: general budget cutbacks, both from membership losses and from resin cycle downturns; SPI's own restructuring into member-directed functional groups; and a lighter workload for administrative staff, because SPI no longer will provide administrative services to APC and some business units.
SPI has not decided whether some of the laid-off workers will be replaced, Dills said. She declined to provide more details until SPI's board of directors discusses its budget at a meeting May 19-21 in Arlington, Va.
SPI's budget this year was flat at about $30 million, and is expected to be cut in the next fiscal year, which begins June 1, Dills said.
``We feel some things are internal and not necessarily something we want to discuss,'' she said.
Several SPI board members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the group's membership revenues have not met targets, although one board member said that mostly is due to factors beyond Taylor's control.
``Clearly in my dealings with Jerry, he is a very professional and capable individual, but he was somewhat holding a leaky bag,'' the board member said.
SPI has been putting sales people in its regional offices recently, but the loss of some significant dues from resin companies has not been offset by new members, the source said.
``I am pleased to see that there is action, which is not probably typical of the way SPI has behaved'' in the past, the board member said.
Some of the business unit departures are related to the APC merger talks, like the PSPC and the Plastics Pipe Institute. But the departure of the Composites Institute is not related to the ongoing squabble between SPI and APC, the industry's two largest trade groups.