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Alcoa cuts 90 jobs at Upper Burrell research center

| Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, 4:27 p.m.

Alcoa Inc. eliminated 90 jobs from its research center in Upper Burrell as the aluminum maker targets corporate expense reduction ahead of a plan to split the company in two this year.

The job cuts announced Thursday mark the second time in 11 months Alcoa has laid off workers from the Alcoa Technical Center, where researchers develop aluminum alloys and production technology. In March, Alcoa eliminated 50 jobs from the center.

Alcoa spokeswoman Tracie Gliozzi said in an email that the cuts are “part of the company's global effort to streamline support infrastructure.”

The company reported a $500 million net loss in the fourth quarter as it cut production capacity in its struggling raw material business. In addition to closing smelters and refineries, Alcoa is targeting administrative overhead cuts of $225 million during the next two years, CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said in January.

The company is planning to separate its struggling aluminum production business from its fast-growing parts operation that supplies the automotive and aerospace industries. The split is expected in the second half of this year.

Alcoa, which is based in New York, employs about 2,000 workers in the Pittsburgh region. Before the latest round of layoffs, the technical center employed about 550 workers. Combined, the two rounds of cuts have eliminated about a quarter of the jobs at the center.

Laid-off workers will receive severance, Gliozzi said.

She did not respond to questions about what types of jobs were eliminated in the latest cuts and how much money the company expected to save from them.

While Alcoa is cutting jobs at its research center, the company is investing in technology at the operation. In September, Alcoa said it would spend $60 million on an expansion to make room for three-dimensional printing equipment that the company believes could be used to manufacture parts for cars, trucks and airplanes.

The expansion project, which is expected to be completed next month and add 100 jobs, remains on track, Gliozzi said.

“Core innovation areas are not impacted, and we continue to invest strongly in cutting-edge technologies,” she said.

Alex Nixon is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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