ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) -
Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Labs are watching and waiting to see how the fiscal cliff may affect them.
New Mexico's labs employ thousands of federal contractors, but Department of Energy cuts may put some of those positions in jeopardy.
It's too early to tell exactly how the labs would be affected if deep, across-the-board cuts go into effect.
"Nothing would happen right away," said Kevin Roark, a spokesperson for Los Alamos. "Los Alamos has managed its workforce at cuts tightly the past few years, so we'd be in a good position to not have anything major happen the first six months."
Some say the labs are looking at employment cuts this year, regardless of what happens with the fiscal cliff.
"The government is in huge debt and there have to be cuts made. I think people would rather see cuts in programs that are not going to put people directly out on the street, lacking basic needs and cares," said Richard Montoya, president of UPTE Local 1663, the union representing employees at LANL.
"My greatest concern is that workers are under tremendous stress to achieve goals with reduced staff and support resources," Montoya added. "We are concerned about our safety in the execution of our work under all this pressure. We are afraid that mistakes will be made, people will be hurt and the accountability for that will be on us alone."
The Los Alamos National Laboratory already knows about deep cuts - they reduced their workforce by about 10 percent and spent $255 million less in 2012.
Roark says they let their employees know before the holiday break that any effects from the fiscal cliff crisis wouldn't be immediate. He says even if no deal is reached, everyone is coming to work on Wednesday.
Sources familiar with New Mexico's labs say there could be similar uncertainty for employees at Sandia National Lab, they're also facing a downward trend in spending from the Department of Energy that will worsen if deep spending effects go into effect.
Los Alamos National Lab currently has 10,400 employees.
Sandia National Labs has close to 9,000; most of those employees are at the Albuquerque campus.