Md. plants offer early retirement

April 14, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

The local division of Westinghouse Electric Corp. is making an early retirement buyout offer to many of its 10,000 workers in Maryland, the company confirmed yesterday.

Although it is part of a companywide effort to eliminate 6,000 jobs over the next two years, the new "separation incentive program" is being offered only to the Maryland employees of the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group.

Westinghouse workers at plants in Linthicum, Hunt Valley, Sykesville and Annapolis will be offered one week's base pay for each year of service with the company if they elect to participate in the voluntary plan, said Jack Martin, a spokesman for the local Westinghouse unit. Each worker who accepts the buyout also will receive medical insurance coverage for one year paid by the company.

The program does not apply to workers at Electronic Systems' other plants, in Cleveland; Sunnyvale, Calif; Orlando, Fla; and College Station, Texas.

Mr. Martin said the program will be limited to employees below the rank of general manager who have at least 25 years of service with Westinghouse.

Although he declined to say how many workers are eligible for the program, Mr. Martin said it applies to many of the company's employees in Maryland.

Like other defense contractors, Electronic Systems has been hit hard by sharp cuts in the Pentagon budget in recent years. Operating profits of the local division dropped 63 percent last year, to $81 million.

Employees were notified of the latest work force reduction last week, and the enrollment period will begin the middle of next week and will continue through the middle of May, Mr. Martin said. The last working day for employees who accept the buyout will be May 31.

Enrollment is "on a first-come, first-served basis," said Mr. Martin, who declined to say how much money the division is setting aside for the early retirements or how many workers it would allow to participate.

Mr. Martin said the plan applies to salaried as well as hourly workers in a variety of jobs, including engineers, accountants, human resource personnel, manufacturing workers, technicians, clerical workers and supervisors.

He explained that a recent study of the company's Maryland facilities showed that enhanced productivity through re-engineering and process improvements showed a need for fewer workers.

Mr. Martin said that regardless of how many workers accept the early retirement offer, the division has no plans for a layoff, unless there is an unexpected cancellation of a major contract.

Electronic Systems' major programs include radar for the F-16 and F-22 fighter planes, anti-submarine warfare equipment and electronic jamming equipment used on military planes. It also supplies air traffic control radar under contract with the Federal Aviation Administration and security systems for homes and businesses.

In January, Westinghouse's chief executive officer, Michael H. Jordan, announced that the company would eliminate 6,000 jobs, 3,400 through layoffs, over the next two years. The company has about 85,000 workers. The announcement came after the Pittsburgh-based conglomerate reported a fourth-quarter loss of $478 million.

Through layoffs and attrition, Electronic Systems has eliminated 7,000 jobs in the state in slightly more than three years.

Since 1991, the local division's sales have dropped nearly 20 percent.

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