Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Representatives Louise Slaughter and Dan Maffei, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, and Rochester Mayor Tom Richards released a letter to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. CEO J. Michael Pearson to express their outrage with the company’s recent announcement that Bausch + Lomb’s U.S. headquarters will be consolidated with Valeant’s existing U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, resulting in potentially massive job losses. The local leaders expressed their bitter disappointment with Valeant’s preliminary plans, released on July 28th to employees, for the integration of Valeant and B+L, which indicate a reorganization that will seriously harm B+L’s Rochester workforce and operations, and urged CEO Pearson to reconsider. In their letter, the officials made clear their view that Valeant will come to regret the decision to move the B+L headquarters from Rochester, its home for 160 years, and from its highly-dedicated, highly-educated, and loyal workforce.
In addition, the group of federal, state and local officials demanded concrete, public assurances regarding the future of manufacturing and research and development in Rochester, citing Valeant’s failure, so far, to make any concrete commitments to maintain manufacturing and R&D in Rochester for the long-term. Specifically, Valeant officials have only committed to maintaining “current” manufacturing in Rochester, with no reference or details related to long-term operations and growth. Similarly, the officials noted CEO Pearson’s on-the-record comments, which indicate limited interest in investing in R&D, in conjunction with Valeant’s unusually low rate of investment in R&D, as cause for serious concern. The group urged CEO Pearson to assuage some of their concerns, and those of the Rochester community, by making concrete assurances related to the long-term future of manufacturing and R&D without delay, in order to provide some foundation for rebuilding trust in the Rochester community.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that Valeant will come to regret its decision to move Bausch and Lomb’s headquarters and eye care unit out of Rochester and away from the dedicated and talented workforce that have made it the outstanding brand it is today,” said Senator Schumer. “I believe wholeheartedly that this a short-sighted and wrong decision, but there’s still an opportunity to maintain a strong B+L footprint in Rochester through a steadfast commitment from Valeant CEO Pearson to maintain research and development and manufacturing in Rochester. Thus far, commitments to manufacturing and R&D have been vague and focused on ‘current’ work, which is unsatisfactory in regards to B+L’s long-term presence in Rochester. We need answers and we need them to be concrete and clear.”
“When it comes to a highly-skilled, highly-trained workforce, you won’t find anything better outside upstate New York or the Rochester/Finger Lakes region,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The talent and work ethic here made Bausch and Lomb what it is today and gave this business a home for more than a century. The Rochester families behind this company deserve better than losing their jobs through no fault of their own. And I know firsthand the opportunity we have in Rochester to thrive in the new, high-tech economy. Home to world-renowned research facilities, Rochester will be at the cutting edge in science, technology, and advanced manufacturing that any business would want access to – especially those like Valeant.”
“After 160 years in Rochester, the decision to suddenly uproot Bausch and Lomb is wrong for the community and the company. Bausch and Lomb employees are hard-working, skilled New Yorkers who shouldn’t be made to choose between their homes and employment. I urge Valeant to reconsider its decision to relocate this Rochester staple,” said Governor Cuomo.
“It’s frustrating that Valeant would pick up and move Bausch and Lomb’s headquarters and eye care unit away from an area that is optimally structured to meet their needs,” Representative Slaughter said. “Rochester’s world-class optics research facilities and highly-educated and talented workforce make it an ideal setting for Valeant to continue research, development and manufacturing of B+L products. After enjoying a 160-year relationship with B+L, area stakeholders deserve a chance to convince Valeant- just like we would any new company that is considering investing in our area- that our region’s unique resources and experienced workforce make it the right place to call home. I will continue to work with my colleagues to show Valeant that B+L’s future, as well as its past, is right here in Rochester.”
“With the jobs of an untold number of local Bausch & Lomb employees in jeopardy, I’m proud to stand with strong partners at all levels of government to push for real answers from Valeant and a commitment to the preservation of the company’s manufacturing and research and development operations right here in our community,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. “While there is no doubt we have weathered job losses from large local employers before, we’ve always counted on the lines of communication being open between the company and local leaders to best protect the families that are most directly impacted by these changes. Since few answers are coming from Valeant at this time, Monroe County stands ready to do everything in its power to ensure local Bausch & Lomb employees are protected throughout this process.”
“Losing the Bausch + Lomb Headquarters is indeed disappointing given the company’s long and rich history here. So it is important to focus on keeping as many of the manufacturing and Research & Development jobs as possible in Rochester,” said Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards. “But working with Valeant and B+L is not, and cannot be the extent of our efforts. I am committed to continue working on the vast Eastman Business Park as it is an opportunity to create and attract more research and manufacturing jobs at this unique ‘city within a city.’ We must work to become the place where companies are not moving Headquarters out of – but into.”
A copy of the New York officials’ letter to Valeant CEO Michael Pearson appears below:
We write to express our grave concerns about the potential impact on the Rochester community of your company’s pending acquisition of Bausch + Lomb, a bedrock employer and corporate citizen in the Rochester area for 160 years. Valeant’s preliminary plans for the integration of Valeant and Bausch + Lomb, as well as Valeant’s history as a serial acquirer, cause us to question your commitment to the company and the community.
On Sunday, Valeant sent a memo to Bausch + Lomb employees, laying out Valeant’s philosophy and strategy, and preliminary plans for the integration of Valeant and B+L, indicating that “integration planning [is] largely finished.” The memo states that you “are planning to eliminate the global structure and to reduce significantly the regional structure currently in place at Bausch + Lomb,” and that you “will operate [your] U.S. headquarters and new U.S. Eye Health business unit in New Jersey.” While the memo did not contain detailed information regarding the impact of these decisions on the Rochester workforce (beyond the new senior management team), we can only conclude that the impact of this reorganization will be seriously harm B+L’s Rochester workforce and operations.
We are firmly of the view that Valeant will come to regret the decision to move any significant number of jobs from Rochester, B+L’s home for 160 years. The workforce in Rochester is highly-dedicated, highly-educated, and loyal. Unfortunately, it appears that their loyalty will not be rewarded in kind by Valeant – headquarters functions are being eliminated or moved without the workers even being given a chance.
This is a body blow that the Rochester community will eventually recover from, but will not forget. We believe it is of utmost importance to the future of the Valeant/B+L relationship with Rochester that you provide concrete assurances regarding the other B+L operations in Rochester, namely manufacturing and research and development.
With respect to manufacturing, the memo says you “will continue to operate all current manufacturing locations in the U.S., including Rochester,” and you have made similar assurances in private conversations with several of us. But you have thus far made no commitment that these operations will remain in Rochester for the long term, and will not be replaced or phased out as new products come on line. Please respond by describing in detail your medium- and longer-term plans for manufacturing in Rochester. In particular, can you commit that, barring unforeseen circumstances, all manufacturing lines currently operating in Rochester will remain in operation? And what assurances can you provide that eye care products that have been developed in Rochester and are now in the pipeline, such as the Next Generation SiHy(Silicone Hydrogel) Monthly Contact Lens and the Biotrue ONEday Multifocal Contact Lens, will ultimately, if production is scaled up and approvals are secured, be manufactured at commercial scale in Rochester?
We also have significant concerns about the future of R&D in Rochester. You are on the record as stating that R&D “is not a good use of shareholder money,” and the memo to employees states that “R&D investment has not provided a good return for most pharmaceutical companies over the last two decades.” The memo further states your “primary source of innovation will continue to come from business development” – i.e., acquisitions – and you intend to make only “selective late stage R&D investments.” This is a concern not only with respect to your continued support of local R&D functions, but also for the long-term success of a company in an industry built on the creation of new life-enhancing products.