Lockheed Martin to furlough 3,000 workers in U.S.

Posted Friday, Oct. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Lockheed Martin said Friday that it will furlough 3,000 employees across the country on Monday because of the federal government shutdown. It was unclear how many Fort Worth workers would be affected.

In a statement, the Bethesda, Md.-based defense contractor, which builds the F-35 fighter jet in west Fort Worth, said the number of employees put on furlough will increase weekly if the budget impasse in Washington continues.

Affected workers will include those who work at government facilities that have shut down or those whose work requires a government inspection that can’t be done because the inspectors themselves have been furloughed.

The government shutdown is beginning to ripple through the aerospace industry, which works closely with government inspectors and the military on manufacturing programs. Earlier this week, United Technologies, which makes Black Hawk helicopters, said it would furlough 2,000 employees by Monday and Bell Helicopter said it was assessing the potential impact on its operations.

Ken Ross, a spokesman at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, said the company was working Friday afternoon to determine which workers and programs would be affected.

“We remain in discussions with our customers to assess individual program impacts,” Ross said in an email. “This is an ongoing situation and it is premature to say where the immediate effects are right now.”

More than 14,000 people work for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, with about 6,000 dedicated to the F-35 program.

At the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program manager for the F-35 Joint Program Office, said the government shutdown has “not been good for the F-35 program.”

“Our civilian work force gives their all to help develop and deliver the F-35 for our war fighters,” Bogdan said. “They deserve better than to undergo a government shutdown that places undue financial burden on them and their loved ones.”

Bogdan said the shutdown has affected the military’s ability to conduct flight tests. It has also interrupted development and aircraft deliveries, and “sustaining the fleet are also at risk of delay and disruption.”

“Maintaining a stable program is one of the key drivers to keeping the F-35 on track and on budget,’’ he added. “We look forward to a quick resolution that will enable our government to properly function again so we can continue to carry on with our mission.”

Lockheed urged Congress and the Obama administration to find a resolution. The partial government shutdown took effect Tuesday and has idled roughly 800,000 “non-essential” federal workers.

“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 Martin’s president and CEO.

The Aerospace Industries Association called on Congress and President Obama to reach a bipartisan solution to reopen the government, saying that companies will be forced to furlough thousands of workers due to the lack of inspectors and certification staff on the job.

In a statement, the group today called the shutdown “a tragic mistake” that is unnecessarily harming the economy and threatens to stop the flow of new equipment to the armed forces.

“The most immediate concern is the absence of Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors,” the association said. “Pursuant to DOD regulations, these inspectors are required to audit and approve parts and operations throughout the manufacturing process for military products. The manufacturing process must stop if these inspections and certifications are not performed, choking off the flow of new equipment to our armed forces.”

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