By Frank Lewis
In accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, USEC, Inc. has sent out a memorandum as their advance notice of a possible “mass layoff” or “plant closing” as defined under the WARN Act that would begin on or about May 19, 2014, at USEC’s American Centrifuge Program (ACP) facilities in Piketon.
“It is anticipated that a potential reduction-in-force could result in the layoff of more than 50 employees during a 30-day period at USEC’s Piketon American Centrifuge Program facility,” the memorandum reads. “These reductions, if they occur, would be expected to be permanent and those affected employees cannot displace (bump) other employees.”
USEC officials say they have been in discussion with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regarding the continued funding of American Centrifuge program activities.
“We were successful in having the RD&D (research, development and demonstration) program extended to April 15, 2014,” the memorandum continued. “However, DOE has not made a commitment to fund the program past that date at this time. Due to this funding uncertainty we must prepare for a possible phased reduction in the scope of the program, up to and including demobilization. A reduction in scope would cause the near-term elimination of a number of positions at the Piketon facility. In the event we make a decision to reduce or demobilize the program, layoffs would take place through 2014 and we will provide additional notifications as required.”
USEC officials said they understand the significant impact that move would have on their employees and their families, and they are continuing to work with DOE to explore options to lessen the impacts.
“If layoffs do occur, they would begin on Monday, May 19, 2014 and continue through Friday, May 30, 2014 based on a schedule that will ensure the safety and security of all program personnel and materials,” the memo concluded. “Employees impacted by a reduction-in-force may be eligible for dislocated worker assistance through the state of Ohio. USEC will coordinate with representatives from local agencies on any available benefits associated with the Dislocated Worker Assistance Program.”
In response to an inquiry from the Daily Times, USEC released the following statement.
“USEC continues to work with the Department of Energy and Congress to build on the significant achievements of the American Centrifuge Research, Development and Demonstration program, which is currently funded through April 15, 2014. DOE is reviewing options for meeting national security needs for enriched uranium and tritium, as required by the Omnibus appropriations bill enacted in January 2014. We believe that the American Centrifuge technology is the best option to meet those national security requirements for decades to come. However, the absence of clarity regarding both funding and DOE’s intentions for the program beyond April 15 means USEC must issue notices of potential layoffs within 60 days to American Centrifuge workers, as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Given that we now have roughly 30 days of program funding, USEC is taking the prudent step of issuing WARN notices to the affected employees. These notifications do not mean layoffs will occur or that USEC has decided to scale back or demobilize the program, only that the potential for these actions exist.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.