Defense firms to begin furloughs Monday

Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other defense firms will furlough thousands of employees starting on Monday if the government shutdown has not ended.

Lockheed Martin said Friday that 3,000 employees would face furloughs on Monday due to the shutdown.

United Technologies Corp.'s (UTC) subsidiary Sikorsky plans to furlough 2,000 employees Monday if the shutdown is still in effect, and the defense firm said Pratt and Whitney and UTC Aerospace System could also issue 2,000 furloughs next week.

In all, UTC said more than 5,000 employees could be furloughed if the shutdown lasted into November.

Boeing said that it could issue furloughs “in the coming days,” and BAE Systems Inc. indicated 10 to 15 percent of its 35,000-person workforce could be impacted by the shutdown.

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The defense industry warned the Pentagon in a letter Thursday that thousands of furloughs would hit the industry due to the 400,000 civilians who are furloughed within the Defense Department.

The Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industrial Association wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging him to keep production facilities operating and Defense Contract Management Agency inspectors on the job to prevent the industry furloughs.

“Within days many of our members will have no choice but to halt certain defense manufacturing production and furlough employees indefinitely absent government guidance and payment,” the industry groups wrote.

Lawmakers have been pushing the Pentagon to bring its civilians back to work, arguing that a law passed Monday to pay the military also gives the department the latitude to keep civilians working during the shutdown.

The Pentagon has furloughed roughly half of its 800,000 civilian employees in the shutdown.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban said “no decision” had been made about bringing more civilians back to work.

If that doesn’t change, defense industry workers would be sent home starting Monday.

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson told employees in a memo Friday that 3,000 employees had been identified for furloughs that would begin Monday, and the number could increase if the shutdown does not end.

“I‘m disappointed that we must take these actions, and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown,” Hewson said.

Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson said the company notified 2,000 employees Friday that they would face temporary lay offs Monday due to the shutdown. If the shutdown continues through the next week another 1,000 employees could be impacted.

Boeing has not said how many employees might face furloughs but warned they are coming without a resolution to the government-funding impasse.

“While the company is working to limit the negative impact of the shutdown on customers and employees, we expect more consequences could emerge in the coming days, including limited furloughs of employees in some areas,” Boeing spokeswoman Meghan McCormick said.