The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Wednesday, January 22, 2003

USEC now seeks voluntary layoffs
The company gave early retirement incentives to 87 employees and in two weeks will post the layoff notice for 113 more jobs.

By Bill Bartleman

USEC Inc. will soon offer an incentive package for employees who are willing to be laid off as part of the company's effort to eliminate 200 jobs and save $15 million a year.

The company still needs to cut 113 jobs after 87 longtime employees accepted incentives for early retirement. The 87 who accepted early retirement were from a pool of 179 eligible workers whose age plus years of service totaled 83 or more.

USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said the voluntary layoff notice will be posted in about two weeks and will last about a month. She would not give details of the incentive, but the Sun previously reported it will include job training and a lump-sum payment from the U.S. Department of Energy, which operated the plant until five years ago.

If the goal of 200 isn't met with volunteers, there will be involuntary layoffs.

Likeliest to volunteer for layoff are employees nearing retirement who were not eligible for the earlier package, workers who have been considering resigning to pursue other job opportunities and those with the lowest seniority who assume they will be laid off anyway.

The effort is the latest by the company to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Previous cutbacks have closed the enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, and the consolidation of shipping operations in Paducah, site of the nation’s only plant that enriches uranium for use as a nuclear fuel.

The cuts will reduce plant employment to about 1,250, and within employment requirements established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to Victoria Mitlyng, spokesman at the federal agency’s regional office in Leslie, Ill.

The NRC oversees operations to make sure the plant is operated safely. "Our resident inspectors will be monitoring the reduction to make sure there is no reduction in safety," Mitlyng said.

USEC officials say there could be more staff reductions as technology improves.