Northrop to lay off 215 in Maryland

About 175 are employed at Electronic Systems' Linthicum headquarters

September 28, 2002|By Robert Little | Robert Little,SUN STAFF

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Baltimore-area division announced yesterday that 215 of its Maryland employees will lose their jobs as the company tries to cut overhead and move some of its defense contracts from the engineering phase into production.

Most of the layoffs - about 175 - will come from the company's offices in Linthicum, headquarters of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector.

Another 30 jobs will be cut at the sector's Ocean and Naval Systems unit in Annapolis, mostly because of delays in financing for an eight-man Navy submarine being developed there.

A company spokesman said the layoffs are spread throughout the sector and include clerical workers, photographers and engineers.

The affected employees were told of the layoffs yesterday, and most are expected to be out of work by the end of next month.

Northrop Grumman is one of the state's largest employers, with 10,800 workers in Maryland before the recent layoffs.

"These work force reductions are regrettable, but necessary if we are to control our infrastructure costs and help keep the company competitive in the defense electronics industry," James G. Cassady, the local division's vice president of human resources and administration, said in a statement.

The company said the layoffs are part of a campaign to reduce costs and increase competitiveness.

They also mark a change in the kinds of workers needed as products, such as the radar for the F/A-22 Raptor, move from the drawing board to the assembly line.

As it announced layoffs, Northrop Grumman said it expects to hire as many as 50 systems and software engineers in Maryland this year.

Labor groups were critical of the move, especially given Northrop Grumman's soaring performance, particularly at its Baltimore-area division.

Northrop Grumman expects revenue of nearly $18 billion this year and $20 billion or more next year.

Its stock has defied the market's free fall, climbing more than 50 percent since the terrorist attacks last year.

Shares were unchanged yesterday at $126.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Electronic Systems sector in Linthicum, which manufactures military radar and electronics, and other technical systems, is Northrop Grumman's largest division, with sales last year of $4.7 billion.

"I think it's ridiculous for this company to be laying off anybody right now, with the amount of work it's been able to bring in," said Dennis Wilderson, president of the Salaried Employees Association, which represents 23 of the laid-off employees.

"They always say that Electronic Systems is the crown jewel. We're not happy with this at all."

Wilderson said the union has complained to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland.

The union also plans to file a grievance based on its belief that Northrop Grumman will use nonunion workers to perform much of the work that its members once did.

Yesterday's announcement also affects seven workers at the company's unit in Sykesville and 15 workers at Electronic Systems units in Connecticut, Alabama and New York.

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