Towson plant lays off 160 AlliedSignal officials blame cutbacks on declining sales

February 15, 1996|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

About 160 workers have been laid off at the AlliedSignal Inc. Communications Systems plant in Towson due to declining defense business, the company confirmed yesterday.

Another 45 layoffs planned for early March were averted by the recent addition of work on the Patriot missile.

"We had to scale down the size of the work force because of an anticipated decline in sales this year," said AlliedSignal spokeswoman Maria Trentis Stamas.

She said plant officials expect sales, which have ranged between $180 million and $200 million, to be off about 15 percent.

Mrs. Trentis Stamas said the layoffs involved 80 hourly workers, primarily factory production line people, and 80 salaried people, including engineers and administrative personnel.

Workers were notified Jan. 15 or Jan. 22, and most left within a couple of days.

Despite the reductions, the Joppa Road plant, which produces a variety of products for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, has fared much better than most other Maryland defense contractors since Pentagon spending began declining in 1989.

Its work force has remained relatively stable -- fluctuating between 1,100 and 1,200 workers over the past five years -- while other military contractors have been forced to cut back sharply. With the latest reductions, about 1,000 are now employed.

Westinghouse Electric Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and AAI Corp. have eliminated more than 13,000 jobs in Maryland since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Vickie Fultonberger, the directing business representative of the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Union Local 1561, said the company initially had planned to lay off 125 hourly workers but reduced the number when it got additional work on the Patriot missile several weeks ago.

She said that if the plant gets more work, there is a chance that some of the laid-off workers will be recalled.

"The company is being as fair as they can in trying to help workers find new jobs," she said. "They have set up a displacement center to help with resumes and in retaining people for other jobs."

A year and a half ago, the Labor Department awarded the Towson plant about $1.5 million to retrain 459 workers to keep them employed. It was part of a $7.1 million grant awarded to the corporation.

Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich said at the time that it was the first time the government had taken action to help retrain workers while they were still employed.

Mrs. Trentis Stamas said yesterday that none of the workers being retrained under that program was affected by the layoffs.

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