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Schumer: Northrop Grumman 'betraying' LI by moving jobs

"Northrop Grumman pledged to protect these jobs, and they have broken their word to their workers and turned their back on the people of Long Island," Sen. Charles Schumer said. (March 4, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

New York's senior senator Tuesday blasted Northrop Grumman Corp. for "betraying" Long Island with a plan to move 850 of its 1,400 local jobs to Florida and California.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the New York congressional delegation, at Northrop Grumman's behest, won millions of dollars in continued funding for the E-2D Hawkeye Navy surveillance plane in 2009. In return, company executives promised to maintain and increase its Bethpage operation, where the plane's design work has been done -- but now will go to Melbourne, Fla.

"Northrop Grumman pledged to protect these jobs, and they have broken their word to their workers and turned their back on the people of Long Island," Schumer said.

A company spokesman declined to comment on Schumer's criticism, which came after the senator spoke with company chief executive Wes Bush in the wake of Monday's jobs announcement.

Schumer's anger and that of others was partially a reaction to years of tax breaks and utility bill reductions for Northrop Grumman's factories from state and local governments.

In December 2011, Empire State Development Corp. granted $1.1 million in state tax credits in exchange for the company's commitment to maintain 1,500 jobs and spend $11.6 million on building upgrades. Its electric bills have been reduced for years by the state Power Authority in return for hiring promises.

Spokesmen for both state agencies weren't able to respond last night to questions, such as whether New York tried to persuade Northrop Grumman not to move jobs or whether the company would continue to enjoy lucrative tax breaks.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency wasn't given the opportunity to dissuade Northrop Grumman, according to IDA executive director Joseph J. Kearney.

Separately on Tuesday, Florida confirmed it gave incentives to Northrop Grumman in support of plants in Melbourne and St. Augustine being designated "centers of excellence" for various company operations. Bethpage was named a center for electronic attacks prevention.

Florida's Commerce Secretary Gray Swoope said Gov. Rick Scott and local officials cooperated "to move quickly and to put together a competitive case for Northrop Grumman to grow its presence in Florida." The company has shed jobs there recently.

A spokesman for California's economic development agency said it had not provided any new incentives to Northrop Grumman in the past year.


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