published Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Alstom cuts 40 jobs; official says loss of workers won't affect staffing, operations

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Alstom’s boiler services facility in Chattanooga is laying off about 40 workers, or roughly 10 percent of its workforce, an official said Monday.

The reduction is the second for Alstom in Chattanooga this year. In March, the company cut 80 jobs at its adjacent turbomachinery plant on Riverfront Parkway.

Adam Pratt, Alstom’s U.S. media relations manager, said the company is adjusting the workforce size and makeup at the boiler facility based on current market conditions and to make its operations as lean as possible. The facility employs about 380 people.

“We are taking steps to support affected employees and ensure they are treated fairly,” Pratt said. “This includes close coordination with local union management.”

He said the loss of the 40 hourly labor positions does not impact staffing or operations at the turbomachinery manufacturing site.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of marketing, said he’s hopeful Alstom will find opportunities to grow again in the city in the future.

“We always hate to hear about any job reductions,” he said, adding that the Alstom situation renews the need for the Chamber to focus its attention on helping to create high-paying jobs in Hamilton County.

Today, President Barack Obama is slated to visit Chattanooga for the first time since becoming president, and he is to deliver a message on ways to grow the nation’s sluggish economy. Obama will speak at Amazon’s Enterprise South industrial park distribution center, which is adding jobs and shifting “dozens” of employees from part-time to full-time. Amazon announced Monday it is adding 7,000 full- and part-time jobs nationwide to handle its growing Internet sales.

Chattanooga has seen ups and downs in its job-growth efforts over this year, with Pilgrim’s Pride announcing earlier this month it will lay off 200 workers at one of its chicken processing plants. Before that, however, Southeast Mahindra USA announced it would build a new facility in Chattanooga, and Convergys unveiled plans to add 500 workers to its local call center.

“On the whole, we’re seeing bigger jobs announcements than reductions,” Marston said.

But, he added, officials locally are seeing job additions that often require higher skills.

“In some ways, the local economy is emblematic of the national economy,” Marston said. “We seeing a major shift of kinds of work and skills required.”

This spring, Paris-based Alstom said it was slashing its turbomachinery plant workforce in Chattanooga, citing a lack of orders for nuclear power components. That $300 million facility opened in 2010 with the hope of cashing in on a renaissance in nuclear power. However, that ramp up has been slow to come about in the wake of the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plant accident as well as the emergence of plentiful and relatively cheap natural gas from U.S. shale reserves.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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