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:

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Company That Received $2 Billion in Stimulus Addresses Rumor of Even More Layoffs

April 9, 2012 at 9:00 am (CH2M Hill, Department of Energy, Economy, Jobs, John Lehew, Stimulus, Washington State University)

John Lehew, the President of CH2M Hill, a company that received nearly $2 billion in stimulus funds and eventually had to lay off several hundred employees, had a very busy day on Friday.  After news spread that the company had been awarded a $1.3 million grant to assist those who had been laid off as a result of the stimulus, Lehew made the news twice.

First, when addressing a group of students at a Washington State University civil engineering program

…civil engineers are in high demand, and contractors at the Hanford site regularly hire them.
The program’s corporate sponsors — CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., Washington River Protection Solutions, Bechtel National and Fluor Corp. — all work in the area and in connection to Hanford. Their officials spoke toward the value of having a well-trained work force available and familiar with the area at graduation.
“I’m looking forward to hiring a few of you folks,” said John Lehew, president of CH2M Hill.

Optimism didn’t necessarily rule the day however.  While he may be looking forward to hiring new graduates, the prospects for Lehew’s current staff grow ever more dreary.  Also on Friday, comes this…

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. addressed rumors of potential layoffs Thursday with a memo to employees from Chief Executive Officer John Lehew.
The Hanford contractor is in the early stages of evaluating staffing and has no specific information now, the memo stated.
The current work force is aligned with the budget available for the fiscal year, it stated.
But as the remaining economic stimulus spending work that carried over to this year is completed and other work is performed, the contractor is evaluating various staffing scenarios to meet the Department of Energy’s 2015 vision, the memo stated…

All of this for a company that received a massive $2 billion from the federal stimulus bill.  We reported on the situationa few months back at Accuracy in Media:

… a Wall Street Journal report worried about what stimulating the economy now meant for the long haul, pointing out that shoveling money at nuclear-waste projects was nothing more than a short-term Band-Aid on a long-term wound.

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

Sure enough, when the low-hanging fruit began to go bad, when the stimulus funding ran out for the company at the Hanford site, all of those jobs—and then some—were eliminated. Reports of staff reductions at CH2M began in January when KEPR-TV announced that 1,350 layoffs were coming in September due to the end of stimulus funding.  The company had to organize a job fair for those affected by these layoffs, as well as an additional 1,000 laid off men and women at the contractor’s Hanford site. Hanford started the year with 12,000 workers but lost 2,000 positions nine months later.

Regardless, it has to leave a bitter taste for those employees who have been laid off, or are currently fearing for their jobs, to watch the President of the company talk about hiring inexperienced graduates.  Perhaps Mr. Lehew is anticipating another crony stimulation?

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