Boeing gives 319 workers layoff notices

EVERETT — Boeing says it has notified 319 employees in Washington they will be laid off as of April 24.

The company gave affected workers 60-day notices Feb. 20, said Jill Godschall, a spokeswoman for the airplane maker.

Most of the workers — slightly more than 200 — are in Boeing’s Engineering Operations &Technology group. The rest are in Boeing’s commercial airplanes and defense divisions, she said.

“Where reductions are necessary, we provide a variety of career transition services to assist employees,” she said.

The Chicago-based company “uses a standard process to reduce employment levels, and we follow all contractually-required provisions when reductions affect our union-represented workforce,” Godschall said.

The company also follows all applicable federal requirements under the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The announcement comes as the Legislature considers two bills that would the state’s tax breaks for aerospace companies to job and wage levels, a legislative device known as a clawback.

Washington extended the tax breaks in late 2013 as part of its effort to get Boeing to put final assembly and wing production for the 777X in the state.

Boeing said the 777X program would be based in Everett after members of the Machinists union approved a long-term contract with significant concessions, including replacing retirement pension plans with voluntary contribution plans, such as a 401(k).

The company said the concessions were necessary to cut costs and remain competitive in the future.

Critics said Boeing was squeezing employees to benefit shareholders, and that the state’s tax break extension legislation didn’t stop the company from cutting or moving jobs in Washington.

Boeing proved their point a few months later when, in early 2014, it announced it planned to move thousands of engineering jobs — but not necessarily workers — out of the state.

Opponents of the proposed clawbacks say they handcuff companies receiving the tax breaks and make them less competitive.

At the end of January, Boeing had 80,199 employees in Washington, nearly half its entire workforce, according to employment levels posted on the company’s website.

The company’s Washington workforce has been declining for the past couple years. In October 2012, it had 87,023 workers here out of 175,742 worldwide.

The last time Boeing had fewer than 80,000 employees in the state was in August 2011, according to the company’s data.

Despite the decline, Washington today accounts for a greater share of Boeing’s worldwide workforce — 49 percent — than it did in 1998, when the company had 104,000 workers — 43 percent — here.

Since then, the company’s presence here bottomed out at just below 53,000 in 2004.

Despite the differences in the company’s workforce over the years, one thing is certain Boeing and its workers produced more commercial jetliners last year than any company has in history.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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