Alliant Techsystems announced Thursday it began reducing its work force by 414 employees in the Top of Utah as part of a move the company said was to react to ongoing U.S. defense and aerospace cutbacks.
ATK officials said 66 people left the company voluntarily as part of the job reduction, which becomes effective next week.
"It's an extremely tough day," said George Torres, an ATK Aerospace Systems vice president.
Since March 2009, more than 1,500 people had left the Magna-based division of ATK, voluntarily or otherwise, as the company dealt with changes in the U.S. shuttle or missile programs.
The move came on the eve of the start of the government's fiscal year, bringing with it federal funding uncertainty for ATK projects.
In April, President Barack Obama originally detailed a plan for the U.S. spaceflight program that moved away from using a rocket partially being developed by ATK, and cuts to the Utah project were cited by the company as one reason for the recent layoffs. The shuttle program already is being phased out by federal officials.
Employees lost their jobs in three Utah locations: Promontory (367), Clearfield (14) and Magna (33).
"ATK has been a mainstay for Brigham City. This is really sad," said Dennis Fife, the Brigham City mayor and a retired ATK employee.
The pink slips arrived less than a day after lawmakers completed a tentative agreement on the next NASA budget, a key component for ATK's remaining 1,800 employees in the Promontory region who help build the Ares rocket motor and shuttles.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation late Wednesday night that reauthorizes the NASA budget. The House then sent it to the White House for approval.
The federal plan supports development of a heavy-lift vehicle -- similar to the Ares rocket -- and is expected to be supported by Obama.
The legislation is the Senate version of the NASA budget, and it generally outlines a plan for a rocket that would support travel to asteroids and beyond.
Those deep-space targets are thought to favor the Ares line of rockets.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said he worked at getting language inserted in the bill that details specific payload requirements for a heavy-lift space launch system.
"Though we will have hurdles to face in the future, the House passage of the Senate bill builds a foundation for the future of the civilian solid rocket motor industry in Utah," Hatch said.
Despite legislative support for an ATK-type product, the rocket's future is considered tentative by political insiders on Capitol Hill.
Minneapolis-based ATK will be left with 3,500 Utah employees. It recently announced an expansion in Clearfield that is expected to create 800 new jobs unrelated to Ares and more to building aircraft.
"We knew our business was changing, and we knew we had to rescale and reshape our business to remain competitive," said Torres. "We are grateful for the strong support the Utah congressional delegation has given to ATK."
The latest job reduction also affects ATK locations in Alabama and Florida.
ATK job cuts in Utah
March 2009: 312
October 2009: 545
January 2010: 417
May 2010: 245
September 2010: 414