100s of workers get pink slips at Westinghouse

'IT WAS JUST SHOCKING'

October 31, 1992|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Barbara Kroll's nearly 17-year career with the local Westinghouse division came to an abrupt end yesterday morning -- her boss called her into the office and told her she was one of the 1,400 picked for permanent layoff.

"It was just shocking," she said as she left the company's sprawling complex near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. After a few seconds of silence, she added: "Just devastating. That's all I can say."

The 51-year-old Elkridge resident, who worked her way up from a position as clerk typist to a good-paying job as a material expediter, said she didn't know what she would do when her job ends shortly after Christmas.

"I'll never get another job making the same money," she said. "I'll never get another job with four weeks of vacation."

With her experience, Mrs. Kroll was hoping she had enough seniority to escape the latest cuts. But she found out yesterday that even colleagues with a lot more time on the job met with the same fate.

"I was 53rd on the list," she said of workers in her job classification, "and they were laying off 85. I knew I was a goner."

While Mrs. Kroll's experience was being repeated hundreds of times yesterday at Westinghouse plants in Linthicum, Hunt Valley, Sykesville, Columbia and Annapolis, others were worrying whether they would be next.

Yesterday's round of notices went mainly to non-union employees. That has left hundreds of mostly union workers still wondering if they will have jobs once the Christmas break ends.

Donald Aschenbach is one of them.

His job as a grinding specialist in the model shop is covered by Local 130 of the International Union of Electrical Workers. He said that while "nothing is official at this time, there are rumors that 14 people from my department will go."

Mr. Aschenbach, 51, is hoping that his 15 years of experience will give him enough seniority to save his job. "But I won't know for sure," he added, "for another couple of weeks."

He explained that Westinghouse, the Baltimore area's largest manufacturing employer, has told the three unions that represent workers at the BWI complex how many jobs are being eliminated in various departments. Now, it's up to the unions to determine who gets laid off.

Yesterday's staff reduction marked the third major layoff at Westinghouse operations in Maryland since early last year.

In February 1991, 1,200 were laid off after the Pentagon canceled the Navy's A-12 attack aircraft.

Another 1,300 joined the ranks of the unemployed last December as part of a corporate-wide move to cut 4,000 employees from its 115,000-member work force worldwide. These new layoffs would leave Westinghouse with about 10,600 workers in Maryland.

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