Fort Drum contractor to cut dozens of jobs starting this week
By GORDON BLOCK | Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 22, 2017
FORT DRUM — An aviation maintenance contractor on post will lay off dozens of workers starting this week, which could result in millions of dollars in lost wages for the area.
L3 Technologies said in a letter to the union for its workers that it plans to cut 44 positions between Friday and August, about a third of its 120-person workforce there.
The company’s letter, dated Jan. 24, said the company faced a “recent workload decrease and upcoming potential for further workload decrease.”
Brian A. Gagnon, president of Local 2920 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the company’s workforce at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield provided extensive maintenance work for military aircraft returning from overseas deployments and aided maintenance work for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Many had several years of experience in their work, Gagnon said.
“You can’t replace experience. Most of these guys who are doing this have been doing this for 15 to 20 years,” he said. “To lose that for the brigade and for the area, we may never get that back.”
He estimated the total wages for the 44 workers was about $3 million.
Gagnon said two or three workers will be laid off Friday, and about 20 will be laid off on March 24.
A small group of the 44 laid-off workers will head to Mississippi for temporary positions with the company.
The company said the laid-off workers fall under more than a dozen positions, including aircraft machinists and painters, maintenance test pilots, welders and production control clerks.
Gagnon said he will reach out to the offices of Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, along with U.S. Sens. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., for support.
A spokesperson for L3 Technologies did not comment Tuesday about the job cuts.
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Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters from the 10th Mountain Division's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Drum, N.Y., sit on the flight line at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Bavaria, Germany, Feb. 13, 2017. A contractor that provides maintenance for aircraft returning from overseas deployments and aids maintenance work for the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade plans to lay off dozens of workers.
CHARLES ROSEMOND/U.S. ARMY