102 Huntsville Constellation workers laid off Tuesday; total nears 300

June 30th, 2010

Source: Alabama Local News

HUNTSVILLE, AL. – A key NASA contractor laid off 102 aerospace workers in Huntsville Tuesday, sources said, bringing to nearly 300 the number reportedly sent home in the last week as the Constellation rocket program collapses toward a funding deadline today.

Jacobs ESTS group, a prime contractor for Constellation, made the cuts, according to workers who asked not to be identified and a new Facebook page called Huntsville Space Professionals.

Jacobs terminated another 185 workers last week, according to one poster to the Facebook page created to link laid-off workers with jobs.

Boeing is also expected to announce 100 layoffs in Huntsville this week.

The numbers, except for Boeing’s, are unofficial because Jacobs has declined to discuss staffing, and NASA in Huntsville says it is still getting a handle on how funding decisions made in Washington this month are playing out locally.

NASA Headquarters, which is trying to kill Constellation over opposition in Congress, said June 9 that it had to restrict the program’s funding for the last quarter of the fiscal year that begins Thursday.

With a few exceptions, that meant layoffs had to be made by today, or contractors would have to pay workers themselves with no NASA money and no Constellation work.

The restructuring, which NASA HQ said was necessary to obey a federal law against deficit spending, was originally predicted to cost between 2,500 and 5,000 jobs nationwide.

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, who is fighting the cuts in Washington, said Tuesday that NASA has frozen nearly $890 million since June 9.

The Huntsville response, which has so far occurred mostly out of sight, began with NASA here mailing letters to 21 contractors saying what Constellation work can go forward with the money left.

The contractors, who together employ about 1,750, then began an intense process one worker called a “fruitbasket turnover.”

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