Shipyard plans buyouts

Published 10:11 pm Friday, September 7, 2012

Newport News Shipbuilding has announced it will buy out contracts of eligible workers to cut costs.

Buyouts are planned for 1,200 non-union, salaried employees who are aged 60 and over by Dec. 31, company spokeswoman Christine Miller said.

“It’s just another way for us to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging environment,” she said.

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Expressions of interest are due by Sept. 28. “If their applications are accepted, they would separate from the company no later than Dec. 30,” Miller added.

While the shipyard, with over 21,000 workers, views the buyout as a cost-effective means of drafting off employees nearing retirement, it is also on a hiring drive.

Many vacancies exist on the waterfront, Miller said. The shipyard often targets high school graduates, including at Suffolk Public Schools’ Advisory Council for Career and Technical Education career expo in April.

Mike Barclift of Waddell & Reed Financial Advisors represented the Virginia Ship Repair Foundation at the event. “There’s going to be a tremendous need for young people” in Virginia’s shipyards, he said at the time.

Views differ on how automatic cuts to the Pentagon’s $531 billion budget, of $50 billion annually for a decade, would affect the shipbuilding industry.

The cuts, referred to as “sequestration,” are set to take effect if federal lawmakers don’t agree on a deficit reduction plan by January.

One view, espoused by Barclift, says the Navy will turn its focus toward repairing existing vessels, keeping the ship repair industry strong.