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Navy Plans to Lay Off 184 Workers at 2 Bases

Jobs: The cuts in the civilian force at Point Mugu and Port Hueneme won't take effect until July 31 and Oct. 1, respectively. Some may get other posts.

February 07, 1996|KENNETH R. WEISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Navy on Tuesday announced layoffs of 135 civilian workers at the Point Mugu naval base and another 49 at Port Hueneme as part of its ongoing efforts to cut costs in the post-Cold War era.

"Every effort will be made to find jobs for people who are affected by this action," said Rear Adm. Dana B. McKinney, Point Mugu's commanding officer. "We want to make sure we make every effort to properly take care of our own during this time of great personal stress."

The layoffs at Point Mugu, called a "reduction-in-force," will spare the scientists and engineers who conduct Point Mugu's core work of testing missiles and other weaponry, said base spokesman Alan Alpers.

Instead, the cuts will target mostly administrative jobs and those who perform maintenance or other services that support the core research, Alpers said. The layoffs represent slightly less than 4% of the 3,505 civil service workers on base.

At Port Hueneme's Naval Construction Battalion Center, most of the expected 49 layoffs will come from the ranks of those performing base maintenance and repairs, Port Hueneme spokeswoman Linda Wadley said. The layoffs there also make up about 4% of the 1,200 civil servants who work for the Seabee base's central command.

"Job layoffs are absolutely the last option that we would choose," said Capt. James L. Delker, commanding officer of the Port Hueneme Seabee base. "Everyone is an important part of the team, but in order to operate within our budget, we have no other choice but to reduce our work force."

So far, no one on either base has received a pink slip.

At Point Mugu, layoff notices will be sent to affected employees no later than March 31, so Navy officials will have four months to retrain workers or help them line up other Navy jobs before the layoffs take effect July 31.

"It is very difficult to determine who will be leaving or what the number will be because some senior people will be bumping junior people and others will be transferring to different jobs on base," Alpers said.

Layoff notices at Port Hueneme will be sent to affected employees by May 31, with the actual layoffs scheduled for Oct. 1.

To determine which employees must go, both bases will follow complex federal rules designed to protect civil servants.

Under the first step, administrators will conduct a mock reduction-in-force that will target specific jobs and allow the affected employees with greater seniority or outstanding performance records to claim the jobs of more junior or less highly valued workers.

Once all the jockeying has run its course, base officials expect to have a hit list of 184 employees between both bases.

Navy officials vow to help targeted employees find other work, on base if possible. Those employees who are cut loose will receive severance pay of up to one year's salary, depending on age and length of government service.

The layoffs at Port Hueneme and Point Mugu are part of a nationwide reduction-in-force announced Tuesday that targets 10,000 workers at 140 naval facilities throughout the United States. The Navy is in the midst of a 10-year plan to shrink its payroll to meet reductions in the Pentagon's budget.

The Navy initially targeted 456 jobs at Point Mugu and its sister base at China Lake in the upper Mojave Desert.

But 174 employees recently accepted golden-handshake incentives to retire early. Consequently, officials at Point Mugu and China Lake believe only about 275 total jobs will have to be eliminated. Of that amount, Point Mugu's share is expected at about 135 employees.

Since 1983, Point Mugu has offered early retirement incentives five times as a way to reduce the work force without requiring layoffs.

Port Hueneme has been through four rounds of incentives for voluntary departures, including one last month that enabled the base to reduce its targeted list of layoffs from 90 jobs to 49.

For decades, the Navy has been Ventura County's largest employer. With the reductions, Point Mugu's work force has shrunk to 8,849 people, including 2,219 uniformed military, 3,125 employees of defense contractors and the 3,505 civil service workers.

Port Hueneme's work force is now 9,104, including 4,495 in the civil service, 3,812 military, 388 defense contract workers and 409 others.

Ventura County Supervisor John K. Flynn knew the layoffs were coming but was distressed at the news. He recently helped form a community group working with the Navy to help bring more work to both bases.

"I hate to see any layoffs at all," Flynn said. "That's why we are organized to expand jobs there."

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