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Va. shipyard offering buyouts to up to 1,200

Thursday - 9/6/2012, 3:56pm  ET

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News Shipbuilding, the nation's only builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, said Thursday it is offering buyout packages to up to 1,200 nonunion salaried employees.

The company, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, said the buyout is limited to workers who will be 60 or older by Dec. 31 and is intended to cut costs and keep the shipyard competitive.

"It will help us meet our financial objectives and position our business for future success," spokeswoman Christie R. Miller said.

The company employs a total of 21,000 at its 550-acre Newport News shipyard along two miles of the James River and is one of only two shipyards in the U.S. that design and build nuclear-powered submarines. It is the largest industrial employer in Virginia.

The Newport News shipyard is evenly divided between salaried and hourly workers, Miller said. Salaried workers who want to seek the buyout have until Sept. 28 to apply.

"In addition to their regular retirement benefits, they will be paid up to 26 weeks of severance, depending on years of service," Miller wrote in an email.

Huntington Ingalls employs more than 37,000 in Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California. The voluntary buyout is only being offered to its Hampton Roads workforce, though it has previously offered buyouts at other locations.

"I also want to stress that we are continuing to hire for select, salaried positions, mainly entry-level, and our hourly trades hiring remain unchanged," Miller said.

The shipyard's largest union is the United Steelworkers Local 8888, which represents more than 10,000 workers. Its current contract expires in March.

According to its website, Huntington Ingalls is the nation's largest military shipbuilder and has built more than 70 percent of the Navy's fleet of warships.



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