Workers at the BAE Systems plant in Fridley today are facing the inevitable fallout from a Pentagon decision to end a crucial Army contract: Buyouts are being offered, layoffs are coming.
Some 311 Fridley plant workers were placed on paid leave a few weeks ago following the Defense Department's decision to stop the "manned vehicle program," including the Fridley designed and built Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, once thought to be a battlefield weapon of the future.
A top BAE executive is expected to address employees this afternoon. Employees are already being told of a voluntary buy out program they must apply for by July 31.
It's not clear how many buyouts BAE is seeking. The plant's total workforce is about 1,450. Several other BAE plants around the country are also affected, including one in Santa Clara, Calif., where another 300 workers are on paid leave.
In a list of Frequently Asked Questions, the company is telling employees that it anticipates permanent layoffs.
We'll update the post as more information becomes available.
Our interest in this story came from a citizen source in our Public Insight Network who dropped us a line with concern about the plant and the cannon's future and who's continued to help us understand the fallout.