US defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corp is planning to lay off as many as 750 workers, most of them in Southern California, as it consolidates administrative staffs in El Segundo and Redondo Beach.
The cuts would add to California's staggering unemployment roll of more than 10 per cent and would represent about 3 per cent of the 24,000 people who work at the two units, which were combined in January.
On Wednesday, Northrop notified employees about the planned cuts. Buyouts will be offered to employees willing to give up their positions in exchange for the same severance package that laid-off workers will receive, spokesman Jim Hart said.
Severance packages will be "competitive," a combination of cash and extended benefits, Hart said. Eligible employees have until 13 March to apply for voluntary buyouts. "Once we get the results of that, we will proceed with the layoffs that will be necessary," Hart said.
Northrop then will deliver layoff notices by 16 April. The layoffs will be effective 19 June. The cuts will come in administrative positions, including those working in finance, personnel and communications. The firm plans other cost-cutting moves. "Those include streamlining processes wherever we can and eliminating duplication of services, capabilities, tools and facilities," Hart said.
Despite the anticipated job losses, Northrop spokesman Dan McClain said the company's workforce in the region could actually grow this year. The combined unit alone still has more than 850 open positions for skilled, technical jobs in engineering and manufacturing that could offset cuts in administrative jobs, he said. "We're anticipating that we will grow if we can fill all the positions," McClain said.
In January, the company said it was merging the aircraft-making Integrated Systems unit, headquartered in El Segundo, with the satellite-making Space Technology unit, based in Redondo Beach, as a way to cut costs and streamline operations. The move, which also included combining two other units, reduced the number of company divisions from seven to five.
The company, America's second-largest military contractor with more than 120,000 employees worldwide, develops aircraft and builds the fuselage for the F-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jets in El Segundo. In Redondo Beach, Northrop develops satellites and spacecraft. Regionally, Northrop also has operations in Carson, Palmdale and Rancho Bernardo.