The company estimates it will save $250 million over five years by consolidating the non-production work in Fort Worth as part of the company’s new Integrated Fighter Group, which also includes work on the F-16.
The jobs being transferred are all salaried, non-production jobs, most of them in engineering. None of them are union jobs, said Johnny Whitaker, communications director for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Marietta.
“The goal is to have everybody moved by the end of March 2013,” Whitaker said.
About 600 employees in Marietta work on the F-22 stealth fighter.
The 40 remaining jobs are union and involve applying the stealth coatings on the vertical and horizontal stabilizers of the jets, as well as some canopy refurbishment. Those workers will remain in Marietta, Whitaker said.
The workers who transfer will get cost-of-living raises as well as relocation help, he said.
“Do we expect all 560 to take it? We’d like them to,” Whitaker said. “Our promise has been, if you’d like to keep your job, you can. But we don’t expect that all of them will. People have deep roots here. This program has been here 25 years now. We’re hopeful that as many as 30 percent will take us up on the offer. Those who don’t will keep their job here until we can either spread out their responsibilities among people in Fort Worth, or hire a new person in Fort Worth. At that time, if they haven’t found another open job here in Marietta, we’ll have to make some adjustments.
“There might have to be involuntary layoffs,” Whitaker said. “We don’t know how many people that might affect.”
Lockheed has promised that any employee who does make the move will not be laid off in Fort Worth for at least one year after relocating.
Jeff Babione, vice president of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group, delivered the news in person in Marietta on Monday.
“The economic realities of today’s defense business climate require us to drive down costs in order to deliver on our commitments to the war fighter and remain competitive for the future,” Babione said in a statement. “Operating from a centralized location will improve our overall affordability, streamline operations, foster an environment of greater collaboration and ultimately enhance the level of support we provide our customers.”
Whitaker said the moves are part of the company’s overall affordability initiatives and are unrelated to looming across-the-board cuts in the federal budget known as sequestration.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is one of four business areas of the overall company. Aeronautics is headquartered in Fort Worth, where 14,000 employees already work. Marietta currently has 6,900 total employees.
Fort Worth is the main production facility for the F-35, which is Lockheed Martin’s largest program. The F-16 is also built there.
Whitaker said the employees took the news calmly on Monday.
“A lot of people sensed something was coming, but they just hadn’t heard it officially,” he said. “It’s a tough business decision, and it affects individuals on a very personal basis”
Separately, about 3,000 Lockheed employees who are members of IAM Local 709 will vote today to elect new local officers.
The offices of president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and recording secretary, plus other offices and committees are up for election. The terms are for three years.
Four candidates are vying for president: incumbent Denise Rakestraw; Perry Gulledge; Cornell ‘Slim’ Stevens; and Johnny P. Stevens.
Paper ballots may be cast from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the local, 1032 South Marietta Parkway in Marietta. Results will be tabulated tonight and posted on the local’s website.
The company’s contract with its union employees does not expire until 2014.