Martin expects 6% cut in work force by end of year

April 24, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Slashes in the defense budget will lead to Martin Marietta Corp.'s eliminating about 6 percent of its 60,000-member work force by year's end, Norman R. Augustine, chairman and chief executive, said during the company's annual shareholders meeting in Baltimore yesterday.

Officials of the Bethesda-based aerospace and defense contractor were not ready to say how many workers at Martin's Middle River and Glen Burnie operations might lose their jobs.

Mr. Augustine did say, however, that 1,750 jobs could be eliminated this year at the company's Astronautics division in Denver, which has 11,000 employees.

To reach its projected 6 percent reduction, the company would have to cut an additional 1,850 jobs.

Mr. Augustine said the new cuts would come on top of a 3 percent work force reduction last year.

Martin has 4,300 workers in Maryland. About 150 jobs were eliminated at Middle River and Glen Burnie last year. During the meeting at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency Hotel, Mr. Augustine said defense cuts are coming so fast that the company is unable to move into new lines of business to make up for

lost work. While defense spending has declined 30 percent overall since 1985, he said, the portion of the defense budget that involves Martin has been cut 46 percent.

To cope, with the shrinking Pentagon budget,Martin has adopted a three-part "peace dividend strategy." The plan includes acquiring other defense companies, expanding into non-defense markets and using the company's technology to expand its market share.

As part of that plan, the company announced earlier this week that it had bought a 50 percent stake in Kaser Corp., a Des Moines, Iowa-based producer of stone, sand, gravel and gypsum. Martin reported Tuesday that it earned $74.6 million in the first quarter, up from $71.1 million in the same quarter last year.

The employment outlook was just one of the questions on the minds of shareholders attending yesterday's meeting. "Why is it that you don't have a single black or a woman on your board of directors?" asked the Rev. Douglas Moore, who identified himself as a Methodist minister.

Mr. Augustine said the company is still searching for a replacement for John B. Slaughter, the former chancellor at the University of Maryland who resigned from Martin's board in 1988. "It's not right," he said of the lack of blacks or women,"and we're trying to address the issue."

Martin also announced the retirement of Thomas G. Pownall. Mr. Pownall, a former chairman and chief executive who led the company in the bitter takeover battle with Bendix Corp., retired from the board yesterday upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

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