Grumman Corp. announced plans yesterday to eliminate 1,900 jobs at its manufacturing plants around the country, including two in Maryland, before the end of the year.
In a letter to employees, Renso L. Caporali, Grumman's chairman, said that the "painful" cutbacks were a result of a declining Defense Department budget and a "need to get our prices down and become more competitive."
The company estimates that between 600 and 700 of the jobs will be eliminated through attrition. The rest of the cuts will come through layoffs between now and the end of the year. In recent weeks, the Bethpage, N.Y.-based aerospace company eliminated about 400 jobs at its Space Station management operation in Reston, Va.
In recent years, Grumman has eliminated about 4,000 jobs, reducing its work force to about 26,600 worldwide.
Grumman officials said yesterday that it was too early to say how many jobs will be lost at the company's two Maryland manufacturing operations.
Grumman has a machining plant in Glen Arm in Baltimore County that produces structural parts for aircraft. A plant in Salisbury makes electrical harnesses used in aircraft. The Baltimore County plant has about 200 workers, and the Eastern Shore operation employs about 500.
Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, has said the two plants will close if the Defense Department halts funding for the production and remanufacturing of the F-14 Tomcat jet fighter.
Larry Hamilton, a spokesman for Grumman in Washington, said yesterday that the F-14 accounts for about 20 percent of the company's total annual sales. If work is halted on the plane, he said, it would boost the overhead costs at the two Maryland plants to a point that they would no longer be viable operations. They wouldn't shut down any time soon, he said, but eventually they would be closed.
Last month, the Pentagon balked at freeing up $988 million appropriated by Congress last year for the remanufacturing of 12 F-14 fighters. Remanufacturing entails taking an older model of the plane and installing new engines and upgraded electronics.
In his letter to employees yesterday, Mr. Caporali said that it "looks as if the 1991 budget for remanufactured F-14s will be restored."
"However," he added, "the 1992 budget has already gone forth without funding for either new or remanufactured Tomcats, and we are facing a long and difficult fight to get money back in."
Grumman makes several planes that recently were used in the Persian Gulf war. These include the A-6, which served as the workhorse of the Navy's bombing raids; the EA-6B Prowler, the Navy's primary radar-jamming plane; and the E-2C Hawkeye, a carrier-based early warning radar plane.