A new vendor handling work for NASA at its Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East and its John C. Stennis Space Center across the Mississippi state line from Slidell has retained nearly all of the workers whose jobs were thrown into flux ahead of the contract changeover.
Syncom Space Services LLC, a joint venture of the Virginia-based PAE and BWXT Nuclear Operations Group Inc. that has local offices and managers, officially took over the work Monday from Jacobs Technology, a Jacobs Engineering Inc. subsidiary that has offices in Louisiana but is based in Tennessee.
Syncom’s business development manager, Meg Manthey, said Monday that the company has hired more than 900 workers to handle the contract at the two sites. More than 98 percent of the workers were drawn from the existing workforce, she said.
The number of employees working at each facility is relatively close to what was in place before the changeover, she added.
The change comes after NASA combined separate contracts for the work at Michoud and Stennis. Jacobs previously held both contracts, but the company was unsuccessful in its bid to retain the work.
In a November letter to Louisiana officials, a Jacobs executive warned that the changeover would mean that 195 Louisiana residents who worked at Michoud would be laid off, as well as 610 employees at Stennis, which was believed to include both Louisiana and Mississippi residents.
Syncom is expected to adjust staffing throughout the $1.2 billion performance-based deal, which is expected to last about 10 years, Manthey said.
Though Syncom announced its contract award in July, the changeover drew attention in November, when Jacobs informed Louisiana and Mississippi workforce officials about the loss of the contract and the impending layoffs.
Jacobs held the NASA contract since 2009, when it won the work from Lockheed Martin, which had for years been Michoud’s main tenant. At that time, Jacobs’ Michoud contract was valued at $120.4 million for an initial three-year base period, with a one-year optional extension of $40.1 million and a second-year extension of $42.1 million.
Michoud’s latest project is the Space Launch System, a mega-rocket designed to transport astronauts into deep space, a goal of President Barack Obama’s administration.