Oct. 26--The first of an estimated 250 to 300 Army Fleet Support workers could be laid off as early as next week as a result of reduced flying hours at Fort Rucker, according to a letter posted Friday to the website of a local union.
According to Local Lodge 2003 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers' website, L-3/AFS company representatives informed the organization's Grievance Negotiating Committee on Friday that the U.S. Army will be reducing about 49,000 flying hours from the original 250,000 planned for Fiscal Year 2014.
Because AFS' manpower is connected to the flying hour program, the letter said the projected reduction of manpower is about 250 to 300 workers.
The letter said the layoffs are expected to take place incrementally, with the first round of notices expected to be issued as early as next week. The number of layoffs, according to the letter, could increase or decrease "as final analysis of the requirements is determined by the Army and AFS."
An AFS statement last week said the company had no comment at that time in relation to layoffs. Officials could not be reached late Friday for more information.
The letter on the lodge's website said grievance committee members have requested that any employees affected be laid off the last day of work before the Christmas break, and that the company did agree to discuss delaying the effective date and the feasibility of an early retirement program.
The letter encouraged workers to contact their state and federal representatives to keep the flying program at the original budgeted number.
"Tell them that we provide critical services in support of and to the defense of our nation," the letter read.
Should the layoffs take place, it will mark the at least the third time this year for AFS. The company said in early August that it would lay off about 70 workers that month to align staffing with flight hours.
In April, the company confirmed it would terminate about 50 workers that month in order to address a review of the projected requirement of the $1.98 billion Army contract AFS was awarded last year.
Recent reports have placed AFS' employment at between 3,000 and 3,500 employees. The most recent employment number reported to the Dothan Eagle was in 2010 at 4,122 workers, which AFS said included 1,828 aircraft mechanics and structural mechanics and another 531 contract avionic technicians.
According to previous reports, AFS first came to Fort Rucker in 2003 when it was among four aviation services awarded a 10-year, $2.7 billion contract to take over the responsibilities of DynCorp, which served the post for 15 years.
Copyright 2013 - Dothan Eagle, Ala.
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