Lockheed won’t furlough workers if government shuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier, has no plans to shut its facilities or furlough workers if the federal government shuts down, Chief Executive Robert Stevens told employees on Thursday.

“Our facilities will remain open. We will continue to pay you. Your benefits will remain in force. We currently have no plans to furlough anyone,” Stevens told workers in a statement posted on an employee news website.

He thanked them for their continued dedication “in this difficult new reality.”

Stevens told employees the impact of a government closure would vary across the company’s many programs and locations and that Lockheed officials would continue to closely monitor the situation.

Stevens said he had been working “vigorously” with other defense company executives and lawmakers to win passage of a defense budget for fiscal 2011, which began October 1, and avert a costly shutdown.

In February, he and 13 other defense executives warned lawmakers that failure to pass a defense budget would cause schedule delays and breaks in production that would increase overall costs and interrupt delivery of critical equipment. They said it could also affect U.S. employment for many years.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Whitlow said Lockheed was working closely with government officials to understand the potential impact of a shutdown on employees and programs.

“We have contingency plans in place and as details become available we will share them with our employees and subcontractors,” she said.

Democratic and Republican congressional leaders held a series of private meetings and public news conferences on Thursday to work on a budget deal that will keep the government operating beyond the midnight Friday deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, are due to meet at the White House on Thursday evening. One Democratic aide saying they were working on a final compromise that would keep more than 800,000 government workers in their jobs.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Andre Grenon)

Lockheed won’t furlough workers if government shuts