When the next big group of shuttle contractors is laid off in April, it will be the last time some depart with a special bonus rewarding skills that were deemed essential to flying the final missions safely.
NASA and lead contractor United Space Alliance implemented the $100 million “critical skills” bonus in 2008, concerned about retaining the right personnel as the 30-year shuttle program wound down.
Both say the added incentive to stay on the job, which offered eligible USA employees between 15 and 26 weeks of pay on top of their standard severance package, was a success.
But with the bonus program set to expire in April, some employees now face a difficult decision: Should they volunteer to be let go to bank the bonus, or try to hang on with a company whose future is highly uncertain?
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ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA photo of the cockpit of the shuttle orbiter Atlantis as the ship was being prepared for a final electrical power-down. Atlantis is being prepared for public display in 2013 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann.