Westinghouse overestimated spring layoffs Projection reduced to 180 employees from 400 reported to state

'95 total also wrong

Higher figure used to seek federal grant to assist employees

January 27, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

The local Westinghouse Electric Corp. division said yesterday that it overestimated the number of workers who will be laid off this spring.

In information provided to state officials, Westinghouse had stated that 400 of its Maryland workers would lose their jobs in April. The data was used for a Maryland application for a federal grant to assist displaced workers.

Yesterday, the company said the work force reduction will involve fewer than 180 people.

In the grant application, which was processed in late October, Westinghouse also overestimated the number of workers that would be laid off at the end of 1995. It had put the number at 600, but laid off 510.

Karen Napolitano, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, said that, in a letter dated Oct. 27, Westinghouse said it would lay off approximately 700 workers at year's end. Within a few days, that number was reduced to 600.

On that same day, the company said publicly that it would eliminate 510 jobs at the end of the year.

Jack Martin, a Westinghouse spokesman, said yesterday that the figures used in the federal grant application were "based on [the company's] rough estimates of the number of employees affected."

Ms. Napolitano declined to express concern over the discrepancies, saying that the state agency had not yet heard from Westinghouse and that "there could be a legitimate business reason for this happening."

On Thursday, Labor Secretary Robert S. Reich told Governor Paris N. Glendening that Maryland would get a $1.045 million grant to assist the displaced Westinghouse workers in their efforts to find new jobs.

Ms. Napolitano said yesterday that the state likely would not have received as much money if the grant application had sought assistance for 690 workers instead of 1,000.

She said Maryland officials will meet with U.S. Department of Labor officials to determine whether the state will have to return any of the grant money.

A Labor Department official, who asked not to be identified, indicated yesterday that a change in the grant amount might not be necessary.

The official explained that the federal government focuses sharply on how the money is used. If there is excess money, it can be returned to the government or the state can request federal approval to use it to help laid-off workers at another company.

The federal grant comes at a time when Westinghouse is spending $5.4 billion to acquire CBS Inc. It also comes as Westinghouse is in final negotiations to sell the bulk of its defense operations in Maryland to Northrop Grumman Corp for $3.6 billion.

Mr. Martin said the reduction in the number of workers to be laid off this spring is not related to its sale agreement with Northrop Grumman. He said the layoff plans were made before the agreement was made.

Westinghouse has eliminated about 9,000 jobs in Maryland through layoffs and attrition since 1988.

In past layoffs, Westinghouse has picked up the full cost of establishing job placement centers to help displaced workers find new positions.

The company paid for full-page ads in newspapers in other areas of the country to tell prospective employers that skilled people were available for hiring. In some cases, it paid the full cost of completing a degree for workers who were in college when they were laid off.

Mr. Martin declined to say how much that cost the company, saying it is "proprietary information."

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