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Shipyard cancels job fair due to Navy's hiring freeze

Because of uncertainty over the 2013 federal budget, the Navy has implemented a hiring freeze and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard canceled a job fair that had been scheduled for Jan. 25-26.

In a letter that PSNS commander Capt. Steve Williamson sent to employees last week, he explained that the Navy is operating under a continuing resolution passed by Congress that maintains fiscal year 2012 funding levels. Williamson wrote that unless Congress passes an appropriations bill by the end of March, the Navy will face a budget shortfall this year if the continuing resolution keeps 2012 funding levels in effect.

The Navy will have to “look for ways to slow down spending until (Department of Defense) knows what’s going to happen with the budget over the next few months,” his letter states. He said all naval shipyards are involved with Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) analysis of how to mitigate the impacts if no appropriations bill is passed.

Williamson said PSNS will get back to normal operations as soon as possible.

“We have the work, we need the people,” he wrote in his letter, “so at some point the freeze will be lifted and we will be able to reverse the hiring freeze action and move forward.”

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., who recently took office representing the 6th District that includes the shipyard in Bremerton, issued a statement Jan. 17 deploring the effects of federal budget uncertainty.

He called the PSNS situation “a prime example of what’s wrong with Congress.”

“Even though we have the work and the workers, the shipyard career fair had to be postponed because Congress won’t do its job,” Kilmer said.

He added that the shipyard “needs to be able to actively recruit and hire workers. Our local economy needs it and our national security depends on it.”

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