Lockheed Offers Voluntary Separation to 6,500 U.S. Staff

Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, said it’s offering a voluntary separation plan to 6,500 employees at its headquarters and corporate service departments.

Those who choose to leave under the program will receive a “competitive severance package,” Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed said in a statement. “Based on the number of volunteers and budget considerations, the company will make a determination on the need for future involuntary reductions.”

The 6,500 employees represent all of Lockheed’s salaried U.S. corporate staff, company spokeswoman Jennifer Whitlow said in a telephone interview. “Based on our experience about 2 percent of eligible employees, or about 130 people, may take this offer.”

In mid-August the company will evaluate the need for involuntary reductions, she said.

Employees taking the offer will get two weeks of pay and another week of salary for every year of service up to a maximum of 26 weeks, Whitlow said in an e-mail.

Of the 6,500 eligible employees, about 2,000 are in the Washington, D.C., area, 1,300 in Florida, 700 in Denver, Colorado, 500 in Fort Worth, Texas, and 300 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Whitlow said. The rest are in smaller numbers at other locations, she said.

Lockheed previously had announced 3,850 job cuts starting last year after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled a slowdown in U.S. defense spending in 2009.

In June, Lockheed said it would cut 1,500 jobs at the aeronautics unit, which makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as eliminating 1,200 positions at its space unit. In May, Lockheed announced 300 job cuts at a Greenville, South Carolina, plant. Last year, 250 jobs were eliminated at a plant in Eagan, Minnesota, that made the P-3 surveillance plane, and 600 senior executives took early retirement in September 2010.

The company said it employs 126,000 people. Lockheed rose 96 cents or 1.2 percent to $78.40 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4:01 p.m. They have gained 12 percent this year.

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