Galesburg loses jobs as state readies to close Animal Disease Laboratory

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GALESBURG, Illinois -

The Animal Disease Laboratory is closing on April 30, 2017, after serving the region for nearly 30 years.

11 professionals, including microbiologists and lab specialists, will lose their jobs. Several have spent 15-25 years working in the Galesburg lab.

Those who want to keep working must report to Springfield next week for possible assignments out-of-town.

The timing of the announcement doesn't seem fair to IL Rep. Dan Swanson, (R) Woodhull.

"If I've only got a week to make a decision to relocate to Springfield, to relocate anywhere, I need more time than that."

The lab has been a go-to place for disease testing in animals, perhaps most visible in recent years for detecting things like West Nile Virus.

On February 8, 2017, Galesburg workers wrote legislators: "Without our careers, many of us face the potential of losing our homes."

The closure doesn't follow normal protocol between the workers' union, AFSCME, and the Department of Agriculture.

Workers were told by the Department of Agriculture not to speak with reporters about the decision.

"These are families that really have dedicated their lives to this job," said Carlene Erno, AFSCME Local 2615. "They live in this community."

But when the state couldn't replace two retiring veterinary pathologists at lower wages, it speeded the lab's closure.

"Without having these people here, the state of Illinois actually lost their accreditation," Rep. Swanson said.

Lab work will move to an Indiana lab and the University of Illinois.

Galesburg workers will meet in Springfield on Tuesday, March 7.

"These are very dedicated employees who keep us safe through their public service jobs," Erno concluded.

11 jobs that are disappearing from the Galesburg lab on April 30.