Defense spending cuts mean that up to 1,000 more jobs at Hill Air Force Base will be lost next year than were expected - and instead of relying on attrition, the base will have to resort to layoffs.
The total reductions at Hill next year could be 1,427 civilian jobs.Officials announced the major cut Wednesday, the same day that Hercules began laying off 150 more employees at its Bacchus Works in Magna. In the past six weeks, the aerospace company has laid off 232 people, and more cuts are projected through early 1991.
The total number of workers who may be laid off at Hill includes 82 at six Strategic Air Command bases who work under Hill's direction. The date of the reduction has not been determined, say base spokesmen, but Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said it will be around March 1991.
The reductions are part of the Air Force Logistics Command's overall cut of 80,000 civilian jobs. It was prompted by "the prospect for a greatly reduced logistics workload in the years ahead," said Hill spokesman Len Barry.
"As forces are reduced, there will be fewer aircraft and missiles in the Air Force inventory, thus reducing the workloads at AFLC maintenance and repair depots and other specialized centers."
In other words, the end of the Cold War has started to reach deep into Utah's pocketbook.
"We now have reduction-in-force authority for up to the number shown," Barry said Thursday. "What remains to be seen is how many actually will be involved and when. We don't know."
First word of the reductions came in a letter Wednesday from Col. Sidney J. Wise of the Air Force's Office of Legislative Liaison, to Utah's congressional delegation.
Compared to what other bases may suffer in defense budget cutting, "it is a powder-puff hit," Hansen said.
"Some of it will come through attrition. We have four or five months. We will see some people elect to get out early and will see other vacant positions not filled."
All 1,427 aren't likely to walk out the door at the same time, he said.
The Hercules employees being laid off were mostly salaried, that is, administrative types, not the workers who mix rocket propellant.
At the company's Bacchus Works Wednesday afternoon, most employees were not willing to talk about the memorandum they received, saying that the company will be laying off 150 more contract and regular employees.
But two who were willing to talk were worried about the layoffs and annoyed that Hercules had not been more forthcoming.
"They're not telling us anything," one man said. "We don't know if we're going to be (laid off) or not."
When a group of people under contract were to be laid off, they were notified on Oct. 1 that they would be needing new jobs some time in January. But the Hercules employees were told Wednesday they might be laid off - but not when or how many.
For some, "at 3 o'clock they say, `Well, at 4 o'clock, that's it; you have an hour to clean out your desk,' " the man said.
A woman employee said, "They sent out a memo saying how many people, but we don't know who."
Hercules may notify an employee immediately, without prior warning, that he's out of a job, she said. "As a result of that, they give you more severance pay because it's short notice."
More pay or not, that policy makes Hercules employees extremely uncomfortable. The woman spoke of "the frustration" that they feel.
David L. Nicponski, manager of government affairs for Hercules, said the company employs about 4,500.
Ron Peterson, Hercules' vice president and general manager, wrote in a memorandum to employees Wed-nes-day that initiatives to improve competitiveness were aimed at reducing cost while maintaining safety, quality, and consumer responsiveness.
"This is an ongoing process to ensure a competitive posture in the future and, more importantly, to ensure future jobs in Utah," Nicponski said.
The process - which affects such programs as operations, profitability improvement, reduction of supervisory ratios and restructuring of organizations - will not be completed until the middle of next year.
Nicponski said total layoff figures aren't available, but he thinks it will not be of "those proportions" discussed elsewhere, of 1,000 employees.
The Air Force gave authority for reductions in force in fiscal 1991 to the following bases, at up to the maximum shown:
- Hill Air Force Base, 1,427 (of which 82 are at six SAC bases).
- Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: 240.
- Newark AFB, Ohio: 709.
- Robins AFB, Ga.: 907.
- Tinker AFB, Okla.: 2,196.
- Kelly AFB, Texas: 1,213.
- McClellan AFB, Calif.: 811.