NASSCO to lay off as many as 1,150



Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 10:42 p.m.

General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego — the last major shipbuilder on the West Coast — plans to eliminate one-fourth of its work force to cope with a prolonged slump in the industry, cutting as many as 1,150 positions.

The county’s largest manufacturing business said it has sent letters to 900 of its 4,100 workers, notifying them that they might be laid off starting in mid-July. About half of the 500 jobs held by subcontractors also might be cut.

“The potential work-force reduction is the result of a sustained downturn in the commercial and government shipbuilding markets that NASSCO addresses, as well as fluctuations in the Navy’s repair schedule,” Karl Johnson, a NASSCO spokesman, said Wednesday.

“It is possible that the (layoff) number could change if there is an increase in ship repairs,” he added. “Shipbuilding has always been a lagging indicator of the economy, and we’re still feeling the downturn.”

The impending layoffs would be the largest in 15 years for San Diego’s biggest waterfront union, Shipyard Workers Union Local 1998, which has about 2,300 members.

Although the downsizing had been anticipated for a year, the timing — unemployment in California remains in the double digits — is painful, said Robert Godinez, president of the local union, which is a branch of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

“It’s a massive layoff. It is going to impact the community quite a bit,” Godinez said. “Some of the employees are very upset, understandably so. It’s a change in economic well-being. They know the unemployment rate right now in California is high, and finding work is hard.”

To