Unhappy New Year: Local Sperry HQ to shut down as layoffs loom
Northrop Grumman announced plans Friday to shut down its Charlottesville-based Sperry Marine U.S. headquarters, leaving its 37 employee with uncertain futures. While a spokesperson for the company says that a "small number" of employees will be allowed to transfer to the company's large Marine Systems unit on Route 29, the rest will be "laid off" at the end of January 2012.
“Every effort will be made to assist impacted individuals in finding new employment," says Northrop Grumman spokesperson Jack Martin in an email to the Hook. "Affected employees will receive all separation and other benefits to which they are entitled, and the company will also provide outplacement assistance to help those who will be seeking other employment including at other Northrop Grumman facilities."
Martin says that a United Kingdom-based Sperry Marine facility will take over the Charlottesville office's duties, though workers in Europe are not immune to Northrop Grumman cost-cutting efforts. Martin says that 60 to 70 positions through Europe could be eliminated as well.
The international marine industry has been hit hard by the global recession, explains Martin. As a result, orders for Sperry Marine products and services are down.
"It is imperative that we realign our facilities and staffing levels to better meet the requirements of our customers," he says.
Martin says the current announcement will not affect the facility on Route 29, which employs over 600 people.
However, as the Hook reported in October, Northrop Grumman plans to lay off as many as 800 people at its U.S. facilities in Maryland and elsewhere across the U.S. by the end of January, which could affect the Route 29 facility. Indeed, back in May, 60 local Sperry Marine employees were let go, and another 26 lost their jobs in June.
According to a company spokesperson at the time, a company-wide "voluntary separation program" began just days after that October 19 announcement.
“Should these voluntary efforts not fully address the staffing situation, we will initiate an involuntary reduction to ensure our headcount is consistent with our current and anticipated business base," said then-company spokesperson Alleace M. Gibbs. "We expect the involuntary reduction to be completed by the end of January 2012."