NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin announced Friday that 314 salaried shipbuilders have been laid off and 119 managers have been demoted.
Boykin posted to Facebook:
“Today is a tough day as we say goodbye to 314 fellow shipbuilders as part of a layoff impacting our salaried workforce. This is the first workforce reduction we’ve experienced in five years and comes after a thorough assessment of our business.
“This decision, along with the demotion of an additional 119 managers, more evenly distributes management spans and reshapes production and support ratios.”
The shipyard says they have notified all impacted employees.
“Our priority is for the well-being of our employees, and we understand the impact this layoff has on them and their families. We are providing severance and benefits as well as transition assistance to aid them through this stressful time.”
Boykins says that employees are reminded that the HERO Program is available and is a free benefit to staff and their families.
Employees can access the HERO Program at hiihero.com using access code: Huntington Ingalls. HERO has professional counselors experienced with helping families work through life’s challenges.
In closing, Boykin said:
“It is important to stress that our future remains strong even in the midst of today’s news. We will continue hiring for specific, critical positions. While these are very difficult decisions, they are necessary cost controls to help ensure the future of our shipyard and the affordability of the ships we build.“
Read the full letter here.
Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University, said the layoffs came as a surprise to many.
“From my perspective, it was somewhat surprising given the number of Navy contracts that have been announced officially,” he said.
McNab said the number of people affected is relatively small when you look at the economy as a whole, however Hampton Roads could see some ripple effects.
He said the bigger question people may be asking — could more layoffs be in the future?
“I don’t think that’s going to happen. we haven’t seen any large change in defense policy or defense budget with new administration,” he said.
McNab is hopeful those affected will be able to bounce back sooner than later.
“We would expect however, as vaccines get into the arms of the population, that the labor markets are going to recover more rapidly especially in the summer months,” McNab said.