Hundreds of Job Cuts Announced by Major Science Laboratories
Within a 24-hour span, two major national laboratories in the country have announced combined layoffs of more than 500 employees as they take preemptive action before the proposed “Trump cuts” are enacted. President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash funding to the Department of Energy (DOE) is already having a trickle-down effect at its science and innovation labs.
Two laboratories have been forced to trim their expenses in order to meet their budget shortfalls following the expected federal funding cuts. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Long Island, New York have both decided to downsize their workforces in order to bring their costs down.
ORNL spokesperson Morgan McCorkle said, however, that the cuts there are not directly related to the federal funding cuts in the 2018 fiscal budget. “The goal is to keep our operating costs as low as reasonably achievable while still fulfilling the missions assigned to the lab by DOE. It’s about maintaining a competitive cost of doing business,” said McCorkle
Both laboratories will be offering voluntary buyouts to their employees this month. In the case that not enough volunteers come forward to take exit packages, the laboratories will be forced to choose employees to lay off.
ORNL, known for its national security programs, is slashing its workforce by around seven percent, which is up to 350 employees. BNL is laying off 6.5% of its workforce, which amounts to 175 employees.
ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia has confirmed that the affected employees will mostly include support staff, but that some researchers will also be hurt in the downsizing. BNL has also stated that most the employees to be laid off there are support staff members.
The two laboratories receive funding from the DOE, and President Trump’s proposed budget cuts are expected to reduce DOE’s Office of Science federal funding by about $900.0 million in fiscal-year 2018.
ORNL stands to lose as much as $185.0 million following the budget cuts. Similarly, BNL, which received more than $537 million from the department in 2016, will also face significant cuts.
The job cuts are expected to occur over the course of next few months.
“ORNL to reduce workforce by up to 350 by end of year,” Oak Ridge Today, August 9, 2017.
“Brookhaven Lab to eliminate 175 jobs using buyouts, officials say,” Newsday, August 8, 2017.