The Watertown Daily Times reports today (as do others, including the Associated Press) that 150 civilian jobs will be leaving Fort Drum. Virginia-based DynCorp International will move some of its operations from our region to North Carolina and Kentucky. The job cuts are expected to begin this spring, with the workforce on the RESET program, which fixes Black Hawk helicopters, to be reduced from 220 to 70 by mid-summer.
The reason for the cuts hasn’t been completely clear. The workers’ union representative Brian Gagnon (president, Local Lodge 2920 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers) suggested today to the Times that they’re the result of concerns over sequestration in Washington. A company official told WNYF-TV yesterday that the cuts were due to “reduced need” (a local DynCorp official also mentioned sequestration as a reason for the cuts to WNYF yesterday.) Since the company’s “customer” is the military it probably amounts to about the same thing.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder as well whether there might be financial advantages for DynCorp to move operations to North Carolina (which is a right to work state — apologies for the Wikipedia link, but it’s very hard to find something on right to work that’s not clearly slanted in one direction or the other) and Kentucky (which is not). Those states may also be offering incentives that make a move more appealing.
In any event, there is a question of whether DynCorp is taking this opportunity to do now, with the threat of sequestration making things uncertain for many who receive federal funding, something it may well have done anyway.
This sober news comes not long after we heard from North Country Congressman Bill Owens (speaking to NCPR in late January) that Fort Drum was most likely “in pretty good shape” to stave off cuts as the military prepares to make massive budget cuts itself. It’s a reminder that even the threat of cuts can be enough to cause (often very risk-averse) businesses) to make big changes — another reason political brinksmanship is so very dangerous.