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Bath Iron Works prepares for layoffs

Bath Iron Works plans an undetermined number of temporary layoffs over the next four to six months, employees were told. Bath Iron Works plans an undetermined number of temporary layoffs over the next four to six months, employees were told. (Mike Nutter/ Bath Iron Works/ File)
Associated Press / June 2, 2009
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PORTLAND, Maine - Bath Iron Works' top executive yesterday warned workers to prepare for layoffs over the summer and fall because of a long-anticipated gap in work as the shipyard transitions to the Navy's stealthy next-generation destroyer.

Despite efforts to minimize its impact, the workload gap will lead to an undetermined number of temporary layoffs over the next four to six months, Jeff Geiger, president, told employees.

The announcement coincided with word of the first 67 layoffs.

The shipyard's 5,600 workers had long expected the gap, and Geiger says the shipyard is doing all it can to minimize the number of job losses.

"Layoffs are difficult for everyone, and we will explore every available avenue to help minimize the number, including polling for voluntary layoffs, pursuing reassignments, and continuing to seek emergent work," Geiger said in an e-mail.

He emphasized that the layoffs will be temporary.

The shipyard anticipates that its workforce will stabilize as work on the new destroyer ramps up.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to Bath Iron Works on May 22 that the Pentagon's decision to build all three Zumwalt-class destroyers in Bath instead of splitting them with another shipyard assures plenty of work for shipbuilders for "a considerable number of years into the future."

Gates said the Obama administration's proposal aims to give the Navy what it needs while bringing stability to the Navy's shipbuilding infrastructure.