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Mass.-based Raytheon reports postelection layoffs

By Glen Johnson
AP Political Writer / November 9, 2010

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BOSTON—U.S. defense contractor Raytheon announced a series of layoffs Tuesday just days after Gov. Deval Patrick denied asking it to delay terminations until after the state elections.

The announcement follows three other rounds of layoffs announced by Massachusetts employers in the immediate aftermath of last week's elections.

Lab services company Charles River Laboratories and biotechnology firms Biogen Idec and Genzyme have made work force reductions totaling more than 1,000 jobs since Nov. 3, the day after Patrick was re-elected. Raytheon wouldn't divulge the size of its work force reduction.

One of the central campaign criticisms of Patrick's chief rival, Republican Charles Baker, was that Massachusetts wasn't doing enough to stave off or recover from job losses. The Democratic governor rebutted the criticism by citing a state unemployment rate below the national average and figures showing the state recovering from the recession faster than others.

On. Oct. 30, three days before the election, The Associated Press asked Patrick if he had heard about pending layoffs at Raytheon, which is based in Waltham, Mass., and recently was awarded a $47 million Army contract.

"No, no. That's just a rumor," the governor said after one of his final campaign rallies in Newburyport.

When he was asked if he requested the company delay any terminations, he bristled and responded: "Come on. They've been adding jobs."

On Oct. 29, Raytheon Co. spokesman Jon Kasle refused to answer whether Patrick had requested a delay in layoffs, saying, "I would not comment on rumors or speculation."

In a follow-up interview Tuesday, after the layoff announcement, Kasle said, "The answer to the question is no."

He termed the layoffs "a small action" and said the affected employees were notified this week, refusing to be more specific.

The AP initially pursued an Oct. 29 tip that the company planned to make 288 layoffs but was delaying the announcement to Monday at the Patrick administration's request. Kasle was asked at that time about it and said then he wouldn't comment on "rumors or speculation."

On Tuesday, Kasle said the cuts affected jobs inside and outside Massachusetts, where Raytheon has more than 13,000 employees.

"Our commitment to the state remains strong," he said, noting that the company added jobs in October and that its overall employment for the year was higher than the year before.

The AP filed a state public records request on Oct. 29 seeking any e-mails within two Cabinet-level offices -- the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development -- about any potential Raytheon layoffs or any request to delay them.

Patrick administration officials verbally denied receiving so-called WARN notices, which are filed with the state when an employer prepares for a layoff. On Monday, EOLWD spokeswoman Alison Harris provided a written response.

"We do not have any emails, WARN notifications or other correspondence as pertains to your request," she wrote.

Harris had no immediate response to the job cuts on Tuesday.

Biogen Idec Inc., which specializes in biological products for the treatment of serious diseases and neurological disorders, is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and Zug, Switzerland. It has offices all over the world.

Charles River Laboratories Inc., which provides lab services to pharmaceutical companies, is headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., and has about 8,000 employees worldwide.

Genzyme Corp., whose products and services include those geared toward rare inherited disorders, kidney disease and cancer, is based in Cambridge and has more than 12,000 global employees.