NAM’s Pink Slips Go to Senior Staff

Posted December 2, 2008 at 3:03pm

Updated: Dec. 3, 2:51 p.m.

The National Association of Manufacturers cut 17 staff positions Tuesday, including at least three senior-level employees.

Among those let go were Jan Amundson, senior vice president and general counsel, Jim Neill, assistant vice president for corporate affairs, and Mike Hambrick, vice president of communications.

Amundson, who had been with NAM since 1981, most recently served as lead counsel in the trade group’s unsuccessful fight against new Congressional ethics rules requiring NAM to disclose its membership. She was a member of NAM’s senior management team.

While the layoffs did not include any senior-level government relations staff, Neill was a registered lobbyist.

He served as the association’s lead Senate lobbyist until 2007 when he began leading the NAM Consumer Product Safety Commission Coalition, a broad group of manufacturers, retailers and advertisers focused on the Congressional CPSC reauthorization.

“In challenging economic times many trade associations are adjusting accordingly,” Neill said. “I have enjoyed a good relationship with NAM and Governor Engler that I look forward to continuing in the future.”

Hambrick is the current executive producer and host of NAM’s radio show, “America’s Business.”

NAM spokeswoman Maureen Davenport declined to comment regarding specific personnel.

The decision to eliminate 10 percent of NAM’s approximately 140-person staff comes in the face of a weakening economy that has hit the manufacturing industry hard. The layoffs also come just weeks before a newly emboldened Democratic majority — with which NAM has feuded in the past — opens the 111th Congress.

“We have looked at our 2008 numbers and obviously our 2009 budget and so it’s been a careful thought-out process,” Davenport said. “Unfortunately as we looked at it, we needed to reduce some costs.”

In addition to the layoffs, NAM also froze 2009 salaries and is cutting its operating expenses, including travel and outside services, according to Davenport.

Davenport said the decision was not based on a reduction in membership, although the association is not anticipating growth next year.

“It’s a tough economy across the board,” she said. “We’ve had solid dues growth over the past couple of years. We’re not projecting growth in 2009. There’s just too much uncertainty.”

The association held a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the changes.

NAM President and Chief Executive Officer John Engler cited the “economic realities” facing the trade group’s membership as the reason for the cuts.

“My experience has been that out of challenging economic times, the best-run companies emerge stronger with their foundations for success enhanced,” Engler said in a statement. “So, today, I have taken difficult but necessary action to reduce costs and preserve our ability to provide members with critical services.”

Engler said the association will continue to focus on its core issues, including the economy, card check, health care and energy.

The news comes following a decision in mid-November to cancel the trade association’s annual holiday party, originally scheduled for Tuesday night. NAM is instead hosting a lunch on Dec. 12.