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Mass layoff at Northrop Grumman would occur in May

April 22, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- An anticipated mass layoff at Northrop Grumman's operations north of Hagerstown is expected to occur from May 9 to 21, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Northrop Grumman officials warned March 11 that the company's entire local work force of about 180 employees could be laid off within 60 days.

The state labor department received a Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification from the company March 18, labor department spokesman Bernie Kohn said Thursday.

The notice states the layoffs could affect about 174 employees and could occur during the period of May 9 to 21, according to an e-mail from Kohn received Thursday.

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Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification is a federal law that requires employers planning to close a facility or to lay off 50 or more employees to provide notification at least 60 days in advance, Kohn said.

The state labor department will send a rapid response team to the Northrop Grumman site at a date still to be determined, Kohn said.

Employees can go to the team for help with insurance issues, job training assistance and information about the Maryland Workforce Exchange, an online job site that focuses on jobs in Maryland, Kohn said.

Workers at Northrop Grumman's operation on Showalter Road near Hagerstown Regional Airport perform maintenance and modifications to P-3 surveillance aircraft.

A March 11 company news release stated that Northrop Grumman officials expected to complete P-3 projects with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in mid-June.

Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said Thursday that EDC officials had met with Northrop Grumman, Western Maryland Consortium, and Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development officials. The consortium provides job search and training assistance.

"The company is aware of the services available to its employees if the layoff takes place," Troxell said.

"Obviously, we're hoping they can secure the new contract that they're attempting to win so we can keep those employees here," and, hopefully, add more, Troxell said.

In March, Northrop Grumman spokeswoman Leah Smith said no new work was coming in for the Hagerstown-area facility, and company officials were hoping for new work in the fall.

On Thursday, she said the latest information the company had was the March 11 news release. That release also stated the company was looking at the possibility of placing some local employees at other sites.

The local operation started as California Microwave and was purchased by Northrop Grumman Corp. in 1999.

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