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Brookhaven Lab to eliminate 175 jobs using buyouts, officials say

Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton plans to eliminate

Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton plans to eliminate 175 jobs. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Brookhaven National Laboratory plans to reduce its workforce by 6.5 percent, or 175 jobs, over the next few months, officials said Tuesday.

The research institution in Upton will offer buyouts to about half the staff as part of what BNL called a “voluntary program” that isn’t related to President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, which would cut the lab’s funding.

The buyouts are being offered to support staff primarily.

“This staff reduction offers an opportunity for the laboratory to reduce its costs and redirect funding toward growth areas,” BNL spokesman Peter A. Genzer said.

The job cuts will ensure that the laboratory’s spending is “fully aligned with the highest priority” projects, including improvements to research facilities, he said in response to questions from Newsday.

Genzer also said layoffs are possible if not enough employees apply for buyouts between Friday and Aug. 24.

“We will need to consider additional actions, including involuntary separations, if we don’t get 175 volunteers,” he said.

BNL, along with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Stony Brook and other local research institutions, is seen as a linchpin by business and political leaders to build an innovation economy on Long Island.

BNL has about 2,700 employees; 400 are represented by unions. There is a 60 percent/40 percent split between researchers and support staff.

The workforce has been reduced a couple of times in recent years, including buyouts in 2015. The size of buyout packages is based on employees’ years of service.

“We had 80 volunteers apply in 2015, the last time we had this kind of action, and accepted 70 of those,” Genzer said.

BNL is home to research centers used by more than 4,000 visiting scientists each year. Its facilities include the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and National Synchrotron Light Source II.

Much of BNL’s funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The lab is run by Brookhaven Science Associates, a partnership of Stony Brook University and the nonprofit science organization Battelle.

Earlier this year, Trump proposed cutting $3 billion from the energy department next year. BNL received more than $537 million in 2016 from the department. It also faced budget cuts under President Barack Obama.

Brookhaven National Laboratory at a Glance

Employees: 2,700; split 60 percent to 40 percent between researchers and support staff

Funding: $537 million in 2016 from the U.S. Department of Energy

Facilities: National Synchrontron Light Source II, Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

Usage: More than 4,000 researchers from across the globe visit the lab each year.

SOURCE: Brookhaven National Laboratory

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