NORWALK, Conn. – The mood was "terrible" Thursday at Norwalk's Northrop Grumman Corp. facility, according to one employee heading out the door, because most employees know they will be losing their jobs.
Most of the 315 employees will be laid off after Northrop Grumman announced plans to close the Norwalk engineering and manufacturing facility and consolidate the work in Baltimore and Rolling Meadows, Ill., according to a statement from Jack Martin, director of public relations of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.
"The business consolidation – which will result in the closure of the company's facility at 10 Norden Place in Norwalk – is expected to be completed over an 18-month period," Martin said. "There are currently a total of about 315 employees at the Norwalk facility. Approximately 30 to 50 Norwalk employees will receive offers of continuing employment at other company locations, mostly at Baltimore or Rolling Meadows.
"The only business activity that will remain in Norwalk involves a radar test range operation, which will be staffed by a team of approximately five technical personnel."
The employee said he and his co-workers heard about the layoffs at a 1:30 p.m. meeting. He was told that many layoffs will come in November and December. Lights will be out at the end of 2013, when the lease expires.
He did not think many people would be interested in moving to Baltimore. Most employees were "not shocked," he said, because the facility "has not been run like a normal business." There were rumors that the company was renegotiating its lease, but then it got quiet, he said.
The union contract expires at the end of 2013 as well, and 70 engineers were laid off in January. "Once that happened, it was a sign of what was coming," he said.
The man was not upset because he will turn 66 next May. If he gets laid off in December, he will get six months of severance pay and then be eligible for his retirement benefits. "For people in their 30s and 40s, it's tough," he said. "Those are good paying jobs."
Another man leaving the building had similar thoughts. "It was just a matter of time before they dropped the shoe," said the engineer, who is ready for retirement. He thought it would be tough for other employees, who might be interested in going to Baltimore. "Everyone is going to go home and discuss it over the weekend, and see what the mood is on Monday," he said.
A younger man leaving work said the layoffs were "not exactly" expected. He did not know what he would do, but said he is not interested in moving to Baltimore.
"This decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication, professionalism or contributions of our Norwalk employee population," Martin said. "We have long valued these employees as an important part of our company, and the loss of these employees from our team is by far the most difficult part of this decision."
Neither Mayor Richard Moccia nor Tad Diesel, director of business and marketing for the city of Norwalk, returned a request for comment.