Thursday, November 05, 2009

Live At KSC: USA Announces Freeze On Raises

NASA's prime shuttle fleet operator is freezing merit raises for all 8,903 employees in 2010, a move being made to protect current jobs and increase the company's ability to win new business as its largest contract is winding toward an end.

United Space Alliance, which also operates the International Space Station, holds two other contracts and aims to compete for the ground operations contract for NASA's Project Constellation as well as other space operations business.

Jeffrey Carr, director of communications for United Space Alliance, said the freeze will bring the company closer to the industry average for the two years spanning 2009 and 2010. Carr said employees received an average raise of four percent in February. He said the industry average is 1.9 percent.

"This is sort of adjustment based on market conditions," said Carr.

USA is headquartered in Houston and also employs people in Florida, Alabama and Washington, D.C.

The largest segment of its work force -- 5,634 -- is based at Kennedy Space Center, where the company operates the agency's three orbiter fleet. NASA has just six missions remaining on its shuttle schedule before fleet retirement.

"We already know we are going to be facing some cost challenges across the board as budgets draw down in 2010," Carr said, adding that the company will absorb an anticipated employee health care costs.

"We have a challenge to be able to manage our rates at a competitive level that allows us to win new jobs, new business, new contracts," he said. "We need to demonstrate to our prospective customers that we are going to be able to meet their needs at the competitive rates that they need."

The company's largest contract is the NASA Space Program Operations Contract, which runs through Sept. 30, 2010. The $1.1 billion pact was awarded in October 2006 and includes five one-year options that could extend the pact through September 2015 if President Obama decides to keep the fleet in operation.

Extending shuttle fleet operations at a rate of two or three missions a year is one of eight options presented to the White House Office of Management and Budget by a blue-ribbon panel that delivered its final report last month.

The company also holds a few smaller contracts. One is NASA's Integrated Mission Operations Contract, which is valued at up to $371 million and calls for the company to provide flight operations support for the International Space Station and Project Constellation, a follow-on program aimed at sending U.S. astronauts back beyond low Earth orbit.

A joint venture of The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin, the limited liability company also holds a small subcontract with Alliant Techsystems for support of the Ares I launch vehicle.

Carr said the freeze on merit raises includes all company employees -- even Chief Executive Officer Richard Covey and Chief Operating Officer Danial Brandenstein, both of whom are former NASA astronauts.

"This is top to bottom across the board," Carr said. "This effects managers and executives as well as the guys on the floor."

The news comes just a month after United Space Alliance cut 400 jobs, primarily in Texas and Florida. At KSC, 258 people separated from the company.

Some 7,000 jobs are expected to be lost when the shuttle fleet is retired in late 2010 or early 2011.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the image of Discovery rolling out to launch pad 39A earlier this year as a thunderstorm lit up the sky over the Atlantic Ocean. Photo Credit: Justin Dernier, EPA, for NASA.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an appropriate photo to go along with the story

Anonymous said...

It's the beginning of the end. The company is going to start cutting expenses and benefits.

Rocket Man said...

Freeze me baby! It is better then being laid off in the cold..

Brevard said...

We better hope Directlauncher is approved on Thanksgiving and there is enough funding or there will be BIG problems in Brevard County for everyone including the jobs that are NOT space related. http://www.directlauncher.com/

FL BOY. said...

Carr said employees received an average raise of four percent in February. He said the industry average is 1.9 percent.

Do you know what this means in English? It means 1.9% you receive a pay cut because the cost of living is 4% or more per year. Welcome to Florida and be happy you have a job. Every company is going to have its day, when they will need the workers but they will not here. It is going to be much harder to get skilled workers with goverment clearence when they move out of the state. Good luck on the next program - they will need LUCK.

Anonymous said...

You people got a raise this year?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

You should have been around in the early days of the shuttle program. Rockwell raises in Downey were tight or non-existant year after year until the vehicle started flying. That company was tight with a dollar, but they got the job done! Best of luck to all the USA employees. Hopefully all the talent out there is put to good use in the future.

Anonymous said...

Too Bad the Union folks don't figure into this pay freeze....!!

Anonymous said...

At USA what they call raises really are cost of living adjustments. Rarely do the "raises" beat inflation. Second, we've gone through periods where we only received cost of living adjustments every 14-16 months. Its also not entirely true that USA is absorbing increased benefits costs. Last year all of the USASO employees went through a huge benefits cut (lost pension, 401K match, massive increase in health care cost) along with cost of living adjustment smaller than 4%. This this year USASO employee's again take 7% increase in the cost of health care benefits to the employee's, with no pay increase. So really two compensation cuts in a 2 years in a row.

Anonymous said...

"Too Bad the Union folks don't figure into this pay freeze....!!"

Have no fear, Obama's bootlicking sycophants still enjoy pay and benefits far greater than private sector workers with equal skills.

Anonymous said...

All 8,903 employees? No, all 8,903 employees are not having their pay frozen. The union employees that we laughed at every day as they were on strike will still get their pay raises every 3 months as clockwork. We didn't think the union was necessary to prevent the company from mistreating us.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't this headline news? Why isn't NASA outraged that USA would pad the parent companies pockets with the money earned by the shuttle workforce. USA looks as this cash cow is headed for the slaughter house next year so why not take the last drop of milk before it's over? This is just another unnecessarry risk on the safety of the astronauts and the program. Thes workers have worked two jobs for 1 pay in succesfully processing the shuttle and Ares-1X for the last year. Most were expecting and had been promised the best raise of their career for this dedication. Now the company steals it? If they cared about future costs they should have given a lump sum reward and held future costs the same. This is a money grab, management is posturing for their next position with the parent companies, Boeing and Lockheed at the expense of the workers. Bad, bad, bad for moral. This is the reward for dedicated workers who are commited to stay through fly out? Again Why isn't NASA outraged?

Todd Halvorson said...

Anonymous: I'm told that the collective bargaining agreements for those union workers do not include raises for 2010. That already was a given, apparently.....

Anonymous said...

How does mistreating employees retain skills? Lump sum would provide the same cost basis for new work. New work? Does USA know of some secret new work that this will help us win? The EGLS contract has been submitted so this won't help win it. All employees are effected, all non-union employees are effected. There is no mention of executive bonuses being frozen, we must assume that by not including them that they will of course still be paid out. This might be palatable if there was a shred of evidence that the actual company goals were as stated, retain skills and win new work. By the way, no one received the 4% that they quoted last year, that may have been the budget as stated but is was far less after it trickled down to the workers. What industry did they compare to at 1.9% average? The other aerospace industry companies certainly received more that that. USA and NASA have no concern for the low moral of space workers.

Anonymous said...

USA workers have worked 2 jobs, shuttle and Ares 1X for 1 pay, have waited over 10 months for the new president to decide where the future space program is headed, don't know if there will be work past 2010 as promised by the president, have sucked it up and filled the gaps left my the exodus of workers to NASA and other contractors and now USA wants to keep the raises everyone worked for. Talk about kicking some one when they are down.
NASA aren't you concerned about your subcontractor workforce moral?
Where is this money really going? The parent USA companies? Paid back to NASA? Where is it going?
If this was announced as a way to extend shuttle beyond 2010 so be it. That would be great, but to cut costs before any possible extension announcement?
Smells like it is Fishy.

Anonymous said...

The union employees will still get the $.19 raise every three months through 2010. They only get that raise if they have not reached the max pay for their scale, which many have not. There is no annual raise for 2010 but the contracts for all the union positions all come up from June through August of 2010. There will be negotiations for all of the different unions that work for USA, so saying "no raises for 2010" is kind of vauge on their behalf. I would venture to guess massive labor problems from all of the represented employees if no wage increases were part of the negotiations.

On a side note, the recent contract with EG&G ISC employees resulted in a 4%, 4%, 3% raise structure for the next couple of years (2009,2010,2011).

Todd Halvorson said...

Interesting. Thanks anonymous!

UNION GUY said...

Brainless said "Too Bad the Union folks don't figure into this pay freeze....!!"

Salary people receive more for their pensions , flex time, longer lunches, and unlimited sick time as the big guys say. UNIONs have a legal binding contract with USA until June 2010 for what the agreed on for the past three years. Maybe you guys should form a Union so you will feel better about yourselves and not get a pay cut this year???? I think you are still receiving a good deal be happy with what you have and "YES" if there was a freeze or cut, I would take it.

Union worker said...

Actually the Unions received their raise last June so if it makes people feel better, their raises maybe frozen too in 2010 with yours. Be happy to be employed instead of missing out on the little things....

Anonymous said...

So now what? We just give in and say well, I have a job I guess.
No raises = nothing to look foward too. If this is not writing on the wall, I'm not sure how much more
direct it can get. Yes, we knew it was coming, but what great timing for this morale boosting announcment.
Leave now. Before there are thousands of employees piled up looking for employment.
The American dream is slipping further every day.

Anonymous said...

I worked shuttle for 25 years and enjoyed the benefits that produced a very happy life style.
I left KSC in 2006 to incubate a small business that is now growing and producing the same wages that I had at KSC.
The thing is I had to go through a very big pay cut for the beginning years. 25 years of never missing a paycheck and then going it alone was some what scary.
Enjoy what you have because the future may have larger cuts and pay freezes. Get ready.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Florida Today for giving us all a voice on this. We all have every right to express our frustration. But there is a lot of smoke being blown here...

“How does mistreating employees retain skills?” How is paying us above industry average, subsidizing benefit costs, and trying to win new business “mistreating” employees?? By that standard I bet Florida Today is “mistreating” their employees too…just like everyone else who is adjusting to the economy these days. Right?

“Where is this money really going? The parent USA companies? Paid back to NASA? Where is it going?” I think this is saving NASA and the taxpayer some money so Exploration can get going and so USA can get new business.

“By the way, no one received the 4% that they quoted last year, that may have been the budget as stated but is was far less after it trickled down to the workers.” Not everyone got 4% because it was based on performance NOT a cost of living adjustment. Some got more than 4% and some got less than 4%. Some got nothing.

“This is just another unnecessary risk on the safety of the astronauts and the program.” Come on...really?

Anonymous said...

Another thing this post fails to do is to compare and report the mean current pay and possible top pay between the three major players. USA pay scales do not match the other "big boys" on the space center. To state that the decision is based on raises for people who already make more is skating that fine line of dishonesty. Do your homework and do the math. If you make $25 an hour, and get a 4% raise you increase to $26 per hour. If you make $30 per hour and get a 1.9% raise you increase to $30.57.

Anonymous said...

Who is competing on the EGLS contract besides USA?

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