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Leonardo DRS planning phased layoffs in EC

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Leonardo DRS, which maintains C-130 aircraft at this U.S. Coast Guard facility on Consolidated Road in Elizabeth City, has notified state officials of its "contingency plans" to downsize its local operations and lay off employees. The company employs about 90 workers in Elizabeth City.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Virginia-based contractor that maintains U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft at Base Elizabeth City has notified state officials it’s “in the process of implementing contingency plans” to downsize its local operations and lay off employees.

Leonardo DRS, which is based in Arlington, advised the N.C. Department of Commerce in a letter on Tuesday the company “anticipates phased layoffs” at its Elizabeth City facility, beginning on or about Dec. 11.

“It is anticipated that approximately 90 employees may be affected by this action,” Betty Toole, Leonardo DRS’ human resources manager, advised Commerce officials in the letter.

Jobs affected by the possible layoffs include two operations managers, a project manager, a human resources manager, and two supervisors, according to a list Leonardo DRS provided to Commerce officials. The two largest job categories affected are sheet metal mechanics (39 positions) and Tech III maintenance workers (11 positions).

Toole said certain company employees in Elizabeth City may be offered the opportunity to transfer to other areas within the firm.

“However, at present, the company does not know which, if any, employees may be offered this option,” her letter states.

Toole’s letter to Commerce comes as Leonardo DRS still awaits word on its bid to extend its contract with the U.S. Coast Guard to continuing providing maintenance work on the agency’s C-130 aircraft. Leonardo DRS, previously known as DRS Technologies, has had a contract to maintain and repair the Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue aircraft since 2010.

The company learned in late June that the Coast Guard had extended its contract for the C-130 work for six months. However, two other firms apparently were bidding to take over the contract. Both L3 Technologies, which is based in New York City, and DynCorp International, which is based in McLean, Virginia, placed want ads on the job-search website indeed.com for what appeared to be C-130 Coast Guard-related work in Pasquotank County.

In an email on Tuesday, Leonardo DRS spokesman Michael Mount said it was his understanding the Coast Guard has not yet made a decision on the C-130 contract. He referred a reporter to the Coast Guard. 

Attempts to reach the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center's commanding officer, Capt. Randy Hartnett, for an update on the contract were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

Leonardo DRS’ local operations are based in the Coast Guard’s Heavy Maintenance Facility, which is operated by the ALC.

An N.C. Commerce spokesman said Wednesday his agency received a WARN notice from Leonardo DRS on March 28. WARN is an acronym for Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, a federal law requiring companies with 100 or more employees to give 60 days advance notice of any plant closings and layoffs.

The Commerce spokesman said that since the letter in late March, Leonardo DRS has sent the agency updated WARN letters that either pushed back the date of the anticipated layoffs or reduced the number of workers who could be affected.

The spokesman said N.C. Commerce's Rapid Response Team has continued to remain in contact with Leonardo DRS' human resources department. The Rapid Response Team is an early intervention program designed to help employers and workers facing layoffs, closures and other sensitive business actions.

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