Lockheed Martin announces furloughs

Former state representative, Joe Rice, now director of government relations for Lockheed Martin Spaces Systems, shares his view on the economy at the 26th annual Economic Forecast Breakfast, held Dec. 14 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. More than 800 people attended the sold out event.
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Lockheed Martin, a major employer in the south-metro region, is furloughing 3,000 employees starting Oct. 7 as a result of the government shutdown.

“Today’s announcement affects all our business areas across the country,” Gary Napier, local spokesman for the company, said without confirming whether the Waterton Canyon facility will be impacted specifically. “We remain in discussions with our customers to assess individual program impacts. This is an ongoing situation and it’s premature to say where the immediate effects are right now.”

The number of employees affected is expected to increase weekly in the event of a prolonged shutdown, according to a press release. This includes employees who work in a government facility that’s been closed and those whose projects require a government inspection that can’t be completed, or when Lockheed receives a stop-work order from a customer.

“I’m disappointed that we must take these actions, and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown,” said Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive officer and president. “In an effort to minimize the impact on our employees, we are directing affected employees to use available vacation time so they can continue to receive their pay and benefits. We hope that Congress and the administration are able to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”

During last December’s South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce Economic Forecast Breakfast, Joe Rice, Lockheed Martin Space Systems director of government relations and former state representative from Littleton, addressed what was then the looming fiscal cliff that led to the sequestration.

“It’s not a question of if it’s resolved,” said Rice. “It’s more of how it will be addressed.”

Rice noted that Lockheed has plenty to lose, as its major customers are government and defense contractors such as the Air Force.

Lockheed issued a press release in March, after sequestration went into effect, that predicted such furloughs could happen.

“We deeply regret the effect that sequestration is having on our dedicated and hard-working employees,” read a press release issued at the time.

“While we await more specific direction from our government customers, we are concerned with the lack of progress toward a solution to reverse the negative impacts of sequestration. We continue to assess the likely impact that sequestration will have on our programs and have taken steps to manage its effect on our employees and our business. However, while we understand that the impacts are likely to play out over a period of time, we continue to believe that sequestration will lead to furlough in some situations and could trigger layoffs resulting in WARN notices to thousands of our current employees. This is a very difficult time for our employees and their families, and the thousands of supplier companies that we depend on to support our customers’ mission.

“The fiscal impasse continues to greatly complicate our ability to plan, make necessary capital investments, and recruit and hire the next generation of science and engineering talent. We urge our elected leaders to make it a priority to reverse sequestration before it causes more serious damage and find a more workable and permanent solution to the fiscal challenges our nation faces.”

The Waterton facility was built in 1956. It is headquarters and home base for most employees of Lockheed’s Space Systems Company, which employs 3,800 people in Colorado. Programs based there include GPS III, MAVEN, OSIRIS-Rex and Juno.

In total, Lockheed employs 8,300 people in Colorado, with other locations including Boulder, Deer Creek, Denver and Colorado Springs.

Globally, Lockheed Martin had record sales in 2012 of $47.2 billion, with profits of $5.6 billion. Its stock prices fell slightly after the furloughs were announced, down 33 cents to $122.50.

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