In 2009, the celebration was on for an oddly-named company known as CH2M Hill. The engineering firm, performing the vast majority of the work at a cleanup project located on the Hanford Nuclear Site in eastern Washington, had just received word of a $1.96 billion reward in stimulus money for their services. The company immediately set about conducting job fairs and hiring 1,300 employees.
Feel good story of the stimulus, right? Wrong. More like a prime example of how stimulus funding was nothing more than a short-term band-aid for a long-term economic wound.
In the past couple of years, CH2M Hill has repeatedly announced layoffs that have met and exceeded the number of hires created by the stimulus, have slashed the pensions of non-union workers, and are currently demanding wage and benefit cuts from their union employees.
In January of 2011, specifically citing the drying up of stimulus funds, the Hanford nuclear site braced for a loss of 1,600 jobs, with 1,350 starting in September for CH2M Hill.
This past August, the company announced another 400 layoffs were imminent, informing members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council (HAMTC) union of the news.
All told, the Hanford site started 2011 with 12,000 workers, but lost about 2,000 nine months later. An article by the Tri-City Herald featured several interviews with people who had lost their jobs after stimulus funding had dissipated. Most understood that their positions were only temporary – meaning, they recognized that once the stimulus money had been thrown at the project, their jobs would be eliminated.
Why didn’t the government?