The $2 Billion Stimulus Disaster You’ve Never Heard About

December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am (CH2M Hill, Government Spending, Hanford, Recovery Act, Stimulus, Taxpayer Money)

In 2009, the celebration was on for an oddly-named company known as CH2M Hill. The engineering firm, performing the vast majority of the work at a cleanup project located on the Hanford Nuclear Site in eastern Washington, had just received word of a $1.96 billion reward in stimulus money for their services.  The company immediately set about conducting job fairs and hiring 1,300 employees.

Feel good story of the stimulus, right?  Wrong.  More like a prime example of how stimulus funding was nothing more than a short-term band-aid for a long-term economic wound.

In the past couple of years, CH2M Hill has repeatedly announced layoffs that have met and exceeded the number of hires created by the stimulus, have slashed the pensions of non-union workers, and are currently demanding wage and benefit cuts from their union employees.

In January of 2011, specifically citing the drying up of stimulus funds, the Hanford nuclear site braced for a loss of 1,600 jobs, with 1,350 starting in September for CH2M Hill.

This past August, the company announced another 400 layoffs were imminent, informing members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council (HAMTC) union of the news.

All told, the Hanford site started 2011 with 12,000 workers, but lost about 2,000 nine months later.  An article by the Tri-City Herald featured several interviews with people who had lost their jobs after stimulus funding had dissipated.  Most understood that their positions were only temporary – meaning, they recognized that once the stimulus money had been thrown at the project, their jobs would be eliminated.

Why didn’t the government?

Not only was it temporary, but in the end was proof positive that the stimulus could not counter the effects of an ailing economy.  CH2M Hill lost roughly a net of 700 positions – despite the hiring that came about after their hefty $2 billion reward.

Troubling waters for Hanford workers have yet to recede.

Just a few weeks ago, nearly 1,700 non-union workers at the Hanford site had their pensions cut, with benefits accrued being frozen for 2014, and the multiplier used to calculate pension benefits being reduced from 1.6 percent to 1.2 percent.

Union workers from the aforementioned HAMTC were spared such cuts – or were they?

At the end of November, labor negotiations between the HAMTC and CH2M Hill got testy, with the company proposing significant wage and benefit cuts for their workers.

Dave Molnaa, President of the HAMTC called the proposal “an insult to workers”, explaining that “the proposal will mean less money for workers and more money kept by the corporation”.

Why would a company that received nearly $2 billion in government funding need to eliminate jobs, eliminate pensions, reduce wages, and find ways to ‘keep more money’?

A Wall Street Journal report explains it best, perhaps.  In discussing the CH2M Hill/Hanford cleanup projects, Tennille Tracy writes:

“… projects that employ people quickly are often considered ‘low-hanging fruit’ and can fail to set the stage for long-term economic growth.”

A microcosm of the entire stimulus experiment itself.

For sure enough, when the low-hanging fruit began to go bad for companies like CH2M Hill, when the stimulus funding ran out for projects at the Hanford site, all of those jobs—and then some—were eliminated.

We keep hearing about companies that received millions in stimulus funding, but only created a certain amount of jobs at an exorbitant amount.  Yet CH2M Hill continues to fly under the radar, receiving billions in funding to actually lose hundreds of jobs.

Such waste.  $2 billion in taxpayer money provided for temporary hiring, temporary funding, and a temporary patch on the economy – and you’ve probably never heard about it.

Cross-posted at FreedomWorks

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$2 Billion Stimulus Company Continues to Hemorrhage Employees

August 8, 2012 at 9:00 am (CH2M Hill, Colorado, Crony Stimulation, Economy, Hanford, Infrastructure, Jobs, Layoffs, Plateau Remediation Company, Stimulus)

We’re looking now at a net loss of about 700 jobs.

CH2M Hill was granted roughly $2 billion in stimulus funds to clean up the Hanford nuclear waste site.  The company used that money to setup a job fair and hire nearly 1,300 new employees.  When the stimulus money ran out, so did the ability to employ those same workers – and then some.  An announcement in January of last year predicted 1,600 people would be unemployed by September.

At the beginning of April, CH2M Hill received more government funding, this time in the form of a $1.3 million grant to assist those who were laid off.

To make matters worse, the President of the company, John Lehew, had to address rumors of even more layoffs in April.  Those rumors transitioned to reality this past week…

The Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council has been notified that 67 workers it represents will lose their jobs at Hanford as a result of a planned layoff by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.

In addition, 28 people responded to a request for volunteers for layoffs, bringing the total job cuts for workers represented by HAMTC to 95.

The layoffs have been expected. CH2M Hill announced in April that it would cut up to 400 union and nonunion positions in two phases. In the first phase, 58 employees were laid off in June.

That leaves up to about 340 layoffs possible in September, when the second phase of the job reduction will occur. The potential 340 layoffs include the 95 workers represented by HAMTC.

Nowhere is the reality of wasteful stimulus spending more readily apparent than in the case of a company like CH2M Hill.  Jobs created by environmental cleanup projects and infrastructure spending, while a good idea at heart, are nothing more than temporary fixes that will not remedy the economic crisis.

We keep hearing about these companies that received millions in stimulus funding, but only created a certain amount of jobs at an exorbitant amount.  Yet CH2M Hill continues to fly under the radar, receiving billions in funding to actually lose hundreds of jobs.

Why has CH2M escaped serious scrutiny? Perhaps it is the significant donations and lobbying efforts they have doled out, targeting key Democrats in charge of the stimulus. Perhaps it is the no-bid contracts, the influence they had in shaping the stimulus, or the revolving door of employees and White House administrative positions that have allowed them to continue their dominance in procuring government funding.

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Confirmed: Company That Received $2 Billion in Stimulus to Drop Another 400 Employees

April 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm (CH2M Hill, Hanford, Jobs, John Lehew, Layoffs, President Obama, Stimulus, Unemployment)

This now makes a net loss of about 700 jobs.

CH2M Hill was granted roughly $2 billion in stimulus funds to clean up the Hanford nuclear waste site.  The company used that money to setup a job fair and hire nearly 1,300 new employees.  When the stimulus money ran out, so did the ability to employ those same workers – and then some.  An announcement in January of last year predicted 1,600 people would be unemployed by September.

At the beginning of April, CH2M Hill received more government funding, this time in the form of a $1.3 million grant to assist those who were laid off.

To make matters worse, the President of the company, John Lehew, had to address rumors of even more layoffs last week.  Those rumors have become reality…

Via the Tri-City Herald:

The Department of Energy’s central Hanford contractor plans to cut up to 400 positions between now and late September, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. told workers Thursday afternoon.
The layoffs will come in two phases with the first reduction in late June and the second in late September, said CH2M Hill President John Lehew in a memo to employees. Now CH2M Hill and its main subcontractors employ 1,807 people.
Layoffs will include union and nonunion employees. They also will include workers who are employed directly by CH2M Hill and those employed by the 11 subcontractors who have been with CH2M Hill since it took over the central Hanford environmental cleanup contract.
Workers had been waiting for information since last week when Lehew addressed rumors of coming layoffs, saying he would tell workers more as more information became available.
The staff reductions are needed in part because some work with federal economic stimulus money that carried over into the current fiscal year that began Oct. 1 now is finished, Lehew told employees.

$2 billion to lose 700 jobs.  Now that’s truly leading us out of the dark and into the light.

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2012/04/13/1901901/ch2m-hill-plans-up-to-400-job.html#storylink=cpy

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Company That Received $1.96 Billion in Stimulus, Gets $1.3 Million Grant For Employees Laid Off Because of Stimulus

April 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm (CH2M Hill, Department of Energy, Economy, Hanford, Hilda Solis, Jobs, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Stimulus)

Sometimes the stories write themselves.  Here are the facts…

  • A Colorado-based consulting, engineering and construction firm, named CH2M Hill, was awarded nearly $2 billion from the stimulus to perform cleanup work at the Hanford nuclear site.
  • The company used those funds to hire roughly 1,300 employees.
  • They then inflated the hiring numbers by using a Department of Energy metric known as “lives touched”, which allowed them to boast that the stimulus helped somehow helped or ‘touched’ three-and-a-half times as many people as they had actually employed.
  • When the stimulus funds ran out, so did the ability to support the jobs created or lives touched.  Roughly 1,500 employees were laid off.

And now, via the Tri-City Herald:

The Department of Labor has awarded a $1.3 million National Emergency Grant to help laid-off Hanford workers find jobs.
The largest portion of the money will be used for retraining former Hanford workers who lost their jobs as federal economic stimulus spending at the nuclear reservation came to an end.
“This grant will serve as a safety net for workers and their families during these challenging economic times,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., sent a letter to Hilda Solis, the secretary of labor, in February, requesting consideration of a state application for the grant.
The money will help an estimated 400 former Hanford workers seeking jobs, giving them intensive employment-related assistance, including training, to help them re-enter the work force in areas of the economy that are growing, according to the Department of Labor…

…  The grant is intended to provide money for workers laid off from DOE Hanford prime contractors CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. and Mission Support Alliance and more than 10 subcontractors…

“Workers formerly employed at the Hanford site are facing the challenge of finding jobs comparable to the ones they lost,” Solis said in a statement. “This federal grant aims to help lessen the negative impact of these layoffs.” 

So to summarize, CH2M Hill receives $2 billion in stimulus funds, loses a net of roughly 200 jobs, pretends they helped out over three times as many people, and then has to get a government grant to help those who were laid off find jobs.

Government efficiency… the ultimate oxymoron.

Incidentally, I encourage you to read the entire report to find out exactly why Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have a vested interest in this company’s success.  Find it here…

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