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Union Oil to Close an Office, Move Staff

August 31, 1989|MEG SULLIVAN | Times Staff Writer

Union Oil of California plans to close one of its two Ventura offices and move at least 50 employees to Bakersfield as part of a wide-ranging reorganization of the company.

After the reorganization, which could be completed as soon as January, the number of local Unocal employees will drop to 80 or 85 from about 135, said company spokesman Art Bentley.

Among the reasons cited for the move is Ventura's high housing costs.

"It was difficult to get people who were willing to move from other parts of the country like Texas and Oklahoma because of the high cost of living in Ventura," Bently said. "Housing costs are appreciably lower in Bakersfield."

Union Oil was founded in Santa Paula nearly 100 years ago by an oil prospector and two partners.

Under a company reorganization announced in May, Bakersfield, where the company had maintained a small office, will replace Pasadena as the company's California headquarters.

"There's an awful lot of oil being produced in the San Joaquin Valley, and there are plenty of support facilities such as drilling contractors and well maintenance," Bentley said. "Quite simply, the center of the oil business in California is Bakersfield."

The plans have received a cool reception from some Ventura employees. Four have quit, and four have retired rather than make the move, Bentley said.

Those who resigned did not qualify for severance pay, which according to company policy goes only to employees whose jobs are being terminated, Bentley said.

"If they're offered a job elsewhere, then we view it as his or her job isn't being terminated," he said.

But that didn't stop one employee who quit last month.

"Would you be thrilled to move from Ventura to Bakersfield?," asked the employee, who asked not to be identified. "It's hot, it's smoggy, and it's dingy."

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