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Babcock Wilcox Company has rescinded its required layoff notice of 90 employees, but even though the company’s formal layoff notice has been retracted, the employees still may be subject to cuts.
“The negotiations [for funding] are ongoing and we will see what the path forward looks like,” said Aimee Mills, spokeswoman for B workers are the last group of more than 200 Central Virginia employees whose jobs were in jeopardy after the company announced earlier this year it was downsizing its Generation mPower segment.
About 100 employees were laid off in June 73 of them in Virginia. At the same time, about 50 mPower employees were placed in other positions in B For the remaining estimated 90 employees, B requested and was granted an extended WARN notice, which was rescinded last month.
WARN notices are required by law to alert employees and the government to possible layoffs.
But the effort to find a place for its employees in mPower, which is the company’s largest research and development arm, is just one side of the coin.
Employment is entangled in negotiations with the Department of Energy since the company’s announcement in April it’s downsizing the segment nearly one year to the day it was selected by the DOE for about $150 million in funding for the segment.
Unable to secure additional investors or contracts for mPower since the selection, B slowed the segment’s pace, with annual spending decreasing by more than half to $15 million as of July 1.
Many of those employees were in Lynchburg with more than a dozen at the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research in Forest.
Although Mills wouldn’t comment beyond the continued negotiations, executive director for CAER,
Bob Bailey, said he had seen a small reduction in workforce at the facility after the first round of layoffs in June.
B “incurred $7.9 million of expenses related to the restructuring of our mPower program” in the first six months of the year, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Additional DOE funding had been limited, the filing said, negatively impacting mPower operating income by $14.2 million in “unrecognized cost share” for the first two quarters.
“When a company’s going through stuff like this, they typically hold their cards to their vest,” said Jameo Pollock, who was involved in reviewing the company’s WARN notice at the Community College Workforce Alliance.
Pollock said he received no answer after several attempts to determine the respective job titles under review at mPower.
“I reached out to [Pollock] to see if B had any talent that they were turning loose that was of interest to us. Long story short,” B never called back, said Teo Grochowski, CEO of Robatel Technologies, a small nuclear firm in Roanoke.
“That’s not uncommon,” Pollock said.
Pollock’s seen several companies field WARN notices only to revert their stance or find another business contract,
sometimes even hiring back old employees.