Canceled A12 might spur 1,200 layoffs here Westinghouse warns workers

January 11, 1991|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Evening Sun Staff

The Pentagon's decision to cancel the Navy's A-12 Stealth program could cost 1,200 workers their jobs at the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum.

Richard A. Linder, president of the Electronic Systems Group, sent a letter to employees yesterday saying the prime contractors on the project have ordered Westinghouse to stop work on radar and infared systems for the A-12 fighter plane.

"We are currently assessing the impact on the Electronic Systems Group of the stop-work order," Linder said. "If this stop-work order is converted to a contract termination, initial data indicate that as many as 1,200 jobs may have to be eliminated. Every possibility that could minimize a work-force reduction is being considered."

It could not be learned immediately when the project's prime contractors would give the termination notice to Westinghouse.

Westinghouse spokesman Jack Martin said the company does not yet know what kinds of jobs might be eliminated. He said Westinghouse is looking to move workers into other areas at the plant.

With about 16,000 workers in Maryland, Westinghouse is the state's largest private employer. In recent years, the company has avoided layoffs by scaling back its work force through attrition. The last layoffs were in 1985 when 500 workers lost their jobs, Martin said.

"We're all disappointed because the cancellation of the A-12 program was not expected," Martin said.

Defense Secretary Richard Cheney announced Monday that the Defense Department was canceling its $57 billion contract with General Dynamics Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. for the aircraft because its builders had so badly mismanaged the program that they could never meet the government's contract terms. The program employs 10,000 workers in 42 states.

McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics, both of which denied they had defaulted on their contracts, said they would begin immediately laying off as many as 9,000 workers on the project, mostly at their plants in St. Louis; Fort Worth, Texas; and Tulsa, Okla. The companies had worked for three years developing the A-12.

Another Maryland company will be adversely affected by the decision to cancel the contract. The Amecom division of Litton Systems Inc. in College Park had been selected to develop and test electronic equipment that would have been used on the A-12 to identify electronic signals in the air and on the ground.

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