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Bechtel

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BackgroundEdit

  • Bechtel employs 550 in Wilkins in 2006.
  • Bechtel Plant Machinery, a unit of the $18 billion San Francisco-based engineering and construction giant Bechtel Corp., maintains nuclear propulsion components for ships operated by the U.S. Navy.
  • Bechtel works closely with a separate West Mifflin-based unit, Bechtel Bettis, that conducts nuclear-propulsion research and development for Navy warships and provides technical support to the Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

InsightsEdit

N.Y. senators block 260 jobs from coming to MonroevilleEdit

Clinton, Schumer push Bechtel to review move from SchenectadyEdit

Thursday, December 14, 2006, by Dan Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

New York's two U.S. senators, Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, are blocking the planned transfer of 260 engineering jobs to Monroeville and pressing Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc. to keep the positions in Schenectady, N.Y.

Bechtel, which employs 550 in Wilkins, signed a 15-year lease last week for 120,000 square feet in Monroeville, where it plans to move local employees starting in 2007. But any talk of moving its eastern New York employees to the same location is on hold until at least February, 2007, as the company waits for a counterproposal from officials in Schenectady.

The company's delay is the result of political pressure applied by the two powerful senators and U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty, also from New York. The three asked Bechtel to reconsider a cost-saving decision announced in October to shift the bulk of its work from Schenectady to the Pittsburgh area, saying the move was made without consulting Congress, the state of New York or the city of Schenectady.

Bechtel agreed to hold off for 60 days -- a period that expires in early February. 2007. "We are holding good to our word," Bechtel spokesman Mike Kidder said yesterday.

Bechtel Plant Machinery, a unit of the $18 billion San Francisco-based engineering and construction giant Bechtel Corp., maintains nuclear propulsion components for ships operated by the U.S. Navy. It works closely with a separate West Mifflin-based unit, Bechtel Bettis, that conducts nuclear-propulsion research and development for Navy warships and provides technical support to the Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Both units at one point were part of Westinghouse Electric's old Pittsburgh-area conglomerate. Bechtel acquired the units from CBS Corp in 1999.

Earlier this year, Bechtel Plant Machinery officials began looking at the possibility of consolidating its Wilkins and Schenectady operations in one city, and on Oct. 10, 2006, announced plans to move about 260 engineering and other jobs from Schenectady to the Pittsburgh area, leaving behind about 70 jobs in Schenectady.

Hoping to reverse Bechtel's decision, Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton enlisted the help of Sens. Clinton and Schumer, who pressed Bechtel to keep its eastern New York operation intact.

Bechtel subsequently agreed to the 60-day delay despite concluding that consolidation in Pittsburgh "is in the long-term best interest of our clients, the United States Navy and the taxpayers," as Bechtel executive T.F. Hash wrote in a recent letter to the senators.

"I am, however, mindful of the difficulties this decision has placed on our employees and the community," Mr. Hash wrote. Delaying any action by 60 days will allow Schenectady and the state "an opportunity to serve up economic proposals that would offset the savings a consolidation in Pittsburgh would yield," he wrote.

Officials with the offices of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Schumer could not be reached for comment.

Despite the political back-and-forth in New York, Bechtel proceeded late last week with the signing of a new 15-year lease with The Elmhurst Group for space in a Monroeville building once owned by the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad.

Elmhurst, a Downtown-based developer and property owner , purchased the Jamison Lane building last week from Canadian National Railroad, paying about $5 million. Gerry Dudley and Jeremy Kronman with CB Richard Ellis/Pittsburgh negotiated the 120,000 square-foot lease for Bechtel.

For now, the space will be designed for the company's 550 Pittsburgh-area employees, who currently work at Penn Center East in Wilkins. But Elmhurst President William Hunt said the site can accommodate more people if Bechtel goes forward with the consolidation of its operations in the area.

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