Cutbacks • Rocket maker blames program funding and changing business climate.
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Alliant Techsystems Inc. said it reduced its Utah labor force by 140 employees on Thursday with 90 of those workers voluntarily leaving the company.
Another 10 workers were laid off in Ohio and Mississippi, said Trina Helquist, a spokeswoman for ATK in Utah.
In early October of last year ATK told its approximately 2,600 employees in Utah that there was going to be another wave of layoffs in early 2013. At that time, Charlie Precourt, ATK's vice president and general manager for Space Launch Systems, said he anticipated that the reduction in force would involve only a small number of employees.
"We don't know the exact number," Precourt said at the time. "We're striving every day to not make it be any, but we're anticipating a small number."
Precourt emphasized at the time that the looming cuts in early 2013 would not be part of the earlier stream of layoffs that occurred in the previous 3-1/2 years, which were largely related to the end of the space shuttle program and resulted in more than 2,000 employees being let go.
On Thursday, Helquist said the latest reduction was the result of cutbacks in funding for some ATK programs, on-going consolidation throughout the company and changes in business climate and production rates at its manufacturing facilities.
"While this layoff is smaller than those we have conducted in the past, reductions are never easy,'' she said. "We have lost some very talented individuals."
The layoff impacted the workforces at all three of ATK's Utah plants in Promontory near Brigham City,in Magna and Clearfield.
"For those who were laid off, we have offered severance benefits and out-placement services," Helquist said.
On Thursday, ATK also reported that a day earlier it has successfully tested its newly developed CASTOR 30XL upper stage solid-fuel rocket motor at the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Complex in Tennessee.
The test was the final qualification for the commercial motor, which was jointly developed by ATK and Orbital Sciences Corp. Designed to ignite at altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet, the motor is intended by use by Orbital on rockets slated to perform commercial cargo re-supply missions to the International Space Station for NASA.