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Lockheed Martin offers buyouts to 6,500 employees

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Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin said Tuesday that it is offering a voluntary layoff program for about 6,500 U.S.-based employees, the latest in a string of recent moves to cut jobs at the company.

The news comes as the Pentagon continues to push for savings from contractors.

The initiative offers a severance package to all U.S.-based, salaried employees who report to Lockheed’s corporate headquarters or internal business services organization. The internal unit of about 5,000 employees handles areas such as payroll and information technology for the company.

About 2,000 of the eligible employees are based in the D.C. area, 1,300 are based in Florida offices — in Orlando and Lakeland — and more than 700 are in Denver, according to company spokeswoman Jennifer Whitlow. A Fort Worth site has about 500 eligible employees, while a Valley Forge, Pa., office has about 300.

The severance package provides two weeks of pay, plus another week of pay per year of service, up to 26 weeks. Eligible employees have until Aug. 12 to decide and would depart in the fall.

“Based on experience with these types of programs, we anticipate that around 2 percent will take advantage of the program,” Whitlow said.

The company said it would evaluate the number of volunteers and its budget before deciding whether to implement layoffs.

Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, has been one of the most aggressive in making personnel cuts. Under a voluntary executive buyout program the company launched last summer, about 600 executives departed at a cost of $178 million. The company has said it expects the program to save it about $350 million in the next five years and $105 million every year thereafter.

Lockheed announced late last month that it would lay off about 1,500 employees in its 28,000-employee aeronautics business, which is primarily based in Texas, Georgia and California. At its space systems business, the company said last month, it would reduce its 16,000-employee workforce by 1,200, particularly seeking to shrink middle management by 25 percent. Lockheed said the cuts would most severely hit Sunnyvale, Calif.; the Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania; and Denver.

In both cases, the company said it would offer eligible employees voluntary layoffs before making involuntary cuts.

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