Hanford contractors approve 161 voluntary layoffs

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldDecember 17, 2013 

Three Hanford contractors have granted voluntary layoffs to 161 workers this month.

The Department of Energy has approved the three contractors to cut a total of 450 positions this fiscal year, but whether or how many involuntary layoffs also will be needed is still under discussion by the contractors.

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. told its workers Tuesday that it is re-evaluating the need to have forced layoffs.

It was approved for 100 layoffs, but said in November it expected to cut up to 80 positions this month and next.

Tuesday, it told employees that 44 employees -- 15 union and 29 nonunion -- were taking voluntary layoffs and that it also had a higher than usual number of retirees during November. It employs about 1,350 people.

Mission Support Alliance approved 35 voluntary layoffs, including for project managers, contract administrators, scientists, engineers, secretaries, carpenters, electricians and iron workers, it said Tuesday. That includes 11 union and 24 nonunion employees.

The contractor has about 1,580 employees and has been approved to lay off up to 100 workers, with plans announced in November to lay off up to 55 by the end of January.

Washington River Protection Solutions announced Monday that it had approved 82 voluntary layoffs. It employs about 1,600 workers and is approved to cut up to 250 positions in the fiscal year that ends in September.

The Hanford Site Pension Plan committee reported that it is processing more lump-sum retirements this December than last, with employees being required to leave by Nov. 27 to earn a certain value for a lump-sum retirement in 2013. It processed 102 lump sum retirements this month compared to nine in December 2012.

However, for the calendar year 2013 it processed 398 lump sum retirements compared to 335 last year.

The three Hanford contractors said in November they were planning layoffs because of budget uncertainties, including the lack of a federal budget that has kept Hanford operating under a continuing resolution with static funding levels minus forced federal budget cuts, or sequestration.

However, since then a compromise Senate and House budget agreement was worked out by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and the budget had been approved by the House. The Senate is expected to vote today.

Passage of a budget would end the threat of sequestration and also could allow passage of a DOE budget rather than a flat continuing resolution for Hanford spending.

w Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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