Mission Support Alliance to lay off up to 50

Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance plans to lay off up to 50 employees in early 2012.

It sent a message to workers Thursday asking for volunteers to leave their jobs on or before Feb. 2.

The announcement follows two rounds of cuts this year for Mission Support Alliance and a total of about 2,000 employees laid off by all Hanford environmental cleanup contractors in 2011.

Hanford started 2011 with about 12,000 workers.

Mission Support Alliance has received permission from the Department of Energy to lay off up to 100 workers in fiscal 2012, which began Oct. 1, but its immediate plans are for 50 layoffs, according to the memo. That would include Mission Support Alliance employees and employees of its key subcontractors.

Many of the layoffs this year were linked to the end of federal economic stimulus spending at Hanford. The nuclear reservation hired up after it received $1.96 billion to spend during two and a half years, but both new and longtime employees lost their jobs after most money was spent.

Then as fiscal 2012 started with no federal budget passed by Congress, DOE said it also would approve up to 1,100 layoffs for Hanford environmental cleanup workers.

Washington River Protection Solutions -- the tank farm contractor -- laid off 244 workers this fall and now Mission Support Alliance has approval to lay off 100 workers, all as part of the 1,100 total.

DOE offered to approve the 1,100 layoffs because of budget uncertainties, to allow contractors to make sure they had the workers with the right skills for the work planned for 2012 and to allow the contractors to be more efficient in their work.

Mission Support Alliance, which provides services such as utilities and information technology sitewide at Hanford, requested approval for 100 job cuts for all three reasons, said spokesman Michael Turner.

It is hoped that most of the 50 job cuts can be done through voluntary layoffs, he said.

The cuts are targeted to specific union and nonunion jobs that span a broad range, including chemical technologists, health physics technicians, auto mechanics, electrical and mechanical engineers, training specialists and clerks.

Workers with jobs on the targeted list have until Dec. 30 to apply.

If not enough workers volunteer and are approved, additional layoff notices will be issued Jan. 23.

"We will be basing all decisions on future work scope needs," the memo said.

Nonunion workers would be selected for layoffs on a rating and ranking process. Most union workers would be selected for layoffs based on a seniority system as outlined in collective bargaining agreements.

Mission Support Alliance earlier laid off 125 workers in March and 276 employees in September.

The 50 layoffs that will be final in February will leave up to about 800 more possible this fiscal year under the 1,100 that DOE said it could allow among cleanup contractors.

Battle National, which is not considered a cleanup contractor, also laid off about 200 construction workers in November. It is hiring some nonconstruction workers.

In addition, as cleanup along the Columbia River advances and work there is ramped down, Washington Closure Hanford plans to lay off 210 workers throughout the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.