Last updated: March 18. 2014 8:21AM - 4877 Views
By - tkellar@civitasmedia.com



Times Leader file photoAn aerial shot of the Tobyhanna Army Depot
Times Leader file photoAn aerial shot of the Tobyhanna Army Depot
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TOBYHANNA — One-third of the staff at Northeastern Pennsylvania’s largest employer — Tobyhanna Army Depot — has been cut over the last two years.


The depot now plans to cut more staffing through early retirement incentives. The current plan is to trim to workforce by 154 people by April 30.


Between March and June 2013, at least 310 government workers accepted early-retirement packages. Ed Mickley, the public affairs officer for the Depot, said there are about 3,700 employees currently working. That number is down 1,700 from the past few years.


The government has two programs that eligible employees can consider. Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) is available for eligible employees that are at least 50 years old with 20 years of service, along with all workers with at least 25 years of being on the job.


The Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) provides a lump sum of up to $25,000 for workers to voluntarily separate.


Mickley said earlier retirement and voluntary separation programs are on track with the April deadline looming closer. To honor each employee’s service,Tobyhanna conducts VERA/VSIP ceremonies for outgoing workers.


“Many of our employees have been with Tobyhanna for a number of years (average is 13 years) and understand the cyclical nature of depot business,” Mickley said. “Our employees are the key reason for our success and will remain so in the future. Investing in their development by providing the training, equipment and facilities they need to succeed will always be a top priority.”


Changing times


Mickley attributed the need for cuts to the Department of Defense shrinking its force structure and budgets due to reductions in its presence overseas, as well as the mandated cut in military spending due to the sequester. He also said the United States Army has reduced the active force by 80,000 soldiers from the post-9/11 peak.


Mickley added that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing another reduction of up to 50,000 soldiers.


“These cuts, both actual and planned, result in decreased funding to upgrade military equipment along with reductions in the number of new systems being fielded,” Mickley said. “This certainly includes the various types of electronic systems maintained and repaired by Tobyhanna.”


That decrease in demand has also resulted in a drop in revenue for the Monroe County depot. Mickley said Tobyhanna Depot has seen an annual revenues drop by over $300 million, a 33 percent reduction.


As a result, Mickley said the depot must find a way to “take the appropriate steps, expected by the American taxpayer, to reduce all our overhead and operating costs to include supplies, infrastructure, travel and labor.


Some growth


The Tobyhanna Army Depot has also shown pockets of growth.


Mickley said the Marine Corps workload has increased by 5 percent in the last year, exceeding more than $100 million for the first time “as their senior leaders have recognized our ability to deliver quality products, on schedule and at the lowest cost.”


Amid the staffing changes, Mickley said the depot would remain focused on producing a well-trained workforce that enables flexibility for employees to move to other departments of the depot to lend support when necessary.


Editors Note: Minor correction made to clarify the current number of staff members.


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