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For Curtiss-Wright, no fallout from Westinghouse cuts

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Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
 

On the heels of job cuts at Westinghouse, a Curtiss-Wright Electro-Mechanical Corp. official said that there are no planned layoffs at its Harmar plant.

Westinghouse Electric Co. will eliminate as many as 660 jobs worldwide in the coming weeks, including employees at its Cranberry headquarters, because of a global slow-down for nuclear power reactors.

Company spokesman Vaughn Gilbert could not say how many positions would be cut locally, where Westinghouse employs roughly 6,000 people, including about 4,300 in Cranberry.

The market for nuclear power industry has been rocked since March 2011 when an earthquake produced a powerful tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear complex in northern Japan.

Economic issues, as well as competitive pressures from natural gas, also are depressing the market.

Curtiss-Wright's Harmar plant, which works closely on nuclear projects with its former owner, Westinghouse, is not cutting back on its work force currently, according to a company official.

Curtiss-Wright did cut 29 jobs last May because of changing global demand in the nuclear power industry.

Sharon L. Dey, director of communications for Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Co., headquartered in Falls Church, Va., said Thursday, “We have no plans for layoffs.”

The Harmar plant designs and makes pumps that circulate water around nuclear reactor vessels, as well as generators and other equipment.

Curtiss-Wright bought the Electro-Mechanical Division in Harmar from Westinghouse in 2002.

The two companies have been working together on AP1000 nuclear reactors for China.

“CW and WEC have a long-standing partnership,” said Dey.

“We are formally teamed together for existing nuclear power plants and work collaboratively on ‘new build' (AP1000s) and future plants,” she said.

According to Daniel Vandenburgh, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1914, said that he has heard nothing about layoffs at the Harmar facility.

Members of his union there are skilled workers who represent a little less than half of the work force at Harmar. The company and union agreed to a new labor contract in 2012 after a month-long strike.

“Our membership is down slightly though attrition,” he said. There were a little over 300 unionized workers in August 2012, and now there are about 290, Vandenburgh said.

The depressed market for nuclear power plants is “not news to us,” Vandenburgh said. “They've been talking about Fukushima for a while now and the diminished forecast for growth in nuclear power generation.

“But nuclear power has advantages, and it's hard to predict the long-term.”

Staff writer Mary Ann Thomas wrote this story and Thomas Olson of Trib Total Media contributed. Thomas can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com. Olson can be reached a 412-320-7854 or at tolson@tribweb.com.

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