Westinghouse workers welcome sale anxiously Many recall 9,000 cut from firm's Md. payroll in the past six years

January 04, 1996|By Shirley Leung | Shirley Leung,SUN STAFF Sun contributing writer Meg Cronin contributed to this article.

Westinghouse Electronic Systems employees may have known little about their new boss, Northrop Grumman Corp., but as they left the Linthicum complex yesterday, they said they welcomed the change in command.

"Westinghouse hasn't done us any favors in the last 10 years -- always concerned [about job losses]," said Bob Burkhead, 39, a company truck driver for 21 years. "Can't get any worse. Can't go anywhere but up."

Said Ron Cucina, 40, a maintenance worker at the complex for 20 years: "Everyone is in a positive mode. Morale has been lifted. The unknown is known. What really looks favorable is potential growth with what we have here and what they're manufacturing."

Last month, Westinghouse Electric Corp. officially put its Electronic Systems division on the market.

Concerns over who would buy the 57-year-old defense system division and what would happen to employees have buzzed throughout the plant for weeks.

In the last six years, Westinghouse has cut about 9,000 jobs in Maryland, most of them coming from the Linthicum division.

The most recent layoff was announced in October.

There are now 6,700 employees at the Linthicum plant and total of 8,000 in Maryland.

Yesterday morning's announcement -- made first through the in-house telephone news line and later letters -- brought an initial sense of relief that the division's research and development would continue. Yet employees could not shake off their worries about layoffs.

"Are we going to keep our jobs or what?" said Pat Cager, 40, who has worked at Westinghouse for 22 years as a clerk and computer operator.

"We just want to know if the new company is going to absorb us or are we going to go out the door? We've been through this so many times."

Despite some hard feelings about Westinghouse, longtime employees said they were sad to see their affiliation with the company end.

For Ella and Roosevelt Robinson, their jobs at Westinghouse helped pay for the college educations of three of their six children.

"Westinghouse has been good to us," said Mrs. Robinson, 55, a technician for 22 years.

"We've always been a family," said Millie Adams-Brown, 49, senior engineering mechanical technician.

"I closed two plants -- in Wilkens Avenue and Lansdowne. To see another one go is to see a family dying. I hope they hire young and keep up the tradition."

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