150 laid off recently at shipyards in La., Miss.
About 150 workers have been laid off since January at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s four shipyards in Louisiana and Mississippi -- a move that the company says is a normal part of a cyclical business.
The cutbacks affected company yards at Avondale and Tallulah in Louisiana and Gulfport and Pascagoula in Mississippi, Margaret Mitchell-Jones, a spokeswoman for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, said Friday.
The shipbuilding business has "a cyclical nature," she said. "You might need welders today and riggers tomorrow.
"This is not extraordinary. I'm sure it is to someone who receives a notice. I don't want to be flip. But it's normal."
Northrop Grumman still employs about 19,000 workers in Mississippi and Louisiana, Mitchell-Jones said.
The company recently gave a 60-day notice to its unions that operations at the four yards would return, after just over five years, to a five-day-a-week schedule from the current four-day schedule. Mitchell-Jones said the move was made to better coordinate the company with suppliers' schedules and to maintain costs.
"Changing our work schedule to five-day weeks enables us to work safer, build better quality ships and it is another step we need to make toward meeting our cost and schedule commitments," said Irwin F. Edenzon, Northrop Grumman's vice president for Gulf Coast shipbuilding. "I am confident this change will improve our performance on current programs and allow us to be more successful in pursuing future contracts."
The new schedule goes into effect May 31.
The Pascagoula and Avondale yards are involved in the construction of four ships in the U.S. Navy's San Antonio-class amphibious dock vessels, which can carry up to 800 Marines in assault operations and handle helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Anchorage and Somerset are being built at the Avondale yard, while Arlington and San Diego are being constructed at Pascagoula.
The first five ships in the series -- the USS San Antonio, USS New Orleans, USS Mesa Verde, USS Green Bay and USS New York -- are in service.