Less work will mean shipyard layoffs

Published 4:59 pm Friday, July 31, 2015

By Allison T. Williams
Staff Writer

Newport News Shipbuilding expects to lay off more than 1,500 employees over the next 18 months, beginning with about 500 workers this fall.
“Laying off employees is the last step taken after exhausting other options including cost-cutting,” said Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin, in a July 20 letter and memorandum issued to all employees. “We do not know the extent of the reductions, but in 2015, it will be more than 500 people. In 2016, it will likely be more than 1,000 people.”{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}
The layoffs will affect both hourly and salaried employees and are the result of a decrease in the company’s workload over the next two years, according to Mulherin’s letter. The workload is expected to pick up again in 2017, when the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George Washington, is scheduled to arrive for a $4 billion, three-year refueling and overhaul.
Newport News Shipbuilding has implemented other immediate cost-saving measures, according to Mulherin’s memo. These include the elimination of most non-mandatory, off-site training; no salaried merit pay raises in 2016 or 2017; no new tuition reimbursement approvals; and the elimination of a “floater” holiday for salaried employees.
The company’s apprentice school will continue, although it will be required to make spending reductions.
There will be no changes in employee pensions or company matches to 401K retirement accounts.
All employees impacted by the layoffs will receive 60 days notice, according to Mulherin’s memo. The company will also hold job fairs onsite to allow other companies to come in and interview displaced workers.
Efforts to reach several Newport News Shipbuilding employees who live in Isle of Wight County were unsuccessful.
Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, employs more than 23,000 people and is Virginia’s largest industrial employer, according to the company’s website. It is the nation’s only designer, builder and refueler of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and one of two providers of U.S. Navy submarines.{/mprestriction}

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