Boeing plans buyouts, layoffs for engineers in first of 3 cuts in ‘17

By Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Boeing announced internally on Tuesday a new round of employee buyouts for engineers company-wide and warned that layoff notices will follow later this month to engineers in Washington state, where the company has a large presence. Management did not cite a target for the number of projected job cuts.

The news comes after company Vice Chairman Ray Conner and the new chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, or BCA, Kevin McAllister, warned in December of the need to drive for further cuts in 2017.

John Hamilton, BCA vice president of engineering, sent a memo on the job cuts shortly after noon to all BCA engineering employees, managers and executives.

“As we enter 2017, our plan calls for us to reduce our Engineering staff,” Hamilton told employees. “I realize some of this news is unpleasant. But I wanted to respect your right to know what is occurring this year.”

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said similar announcements will be coming for other work groups, such as production workers, as plans are finalized.

“We’ll be notifying employees as different areas and functions within BCA finalize their plans,” Alder said.

Hamilton’s memo states that details of a buyout offer will be sent on Friday to engineering employees in eligible skill classifications. Those who accept the offered buyout will end their employment on April 21.

The buyout package will be offered to employees in Washington state, southern California and South Carolina.

Hamilton’s message went on to say that 60-day involuntary layoff notices affecting only engineering employees in Washington will be sent out on Jan. 20, with layoffs effective March 24.

Those layoffs will affect employees in the skill classifications that were offered a buyout package last year, he said.

This year’s buyout offer is going out mostly to employees in different skill classifications. There will be further involuntary layoffs if not enough people accept the offer and it falls short of Boeing’s cost-saving target.

Hamilton said that there will be two additional rounds of buyouts and layoffs in engineering later this year.

The extent of the

“We continue to operate in an environment characterized by fewer sales opportunities and tough competition,” Hamilton said. “The decision to lower the production rate on the 777 program announced in late-December underscores that environment and what we need to do to help Boeing win.”

Boeing spokesman Alder said the workforce reductions in 2017, as last year, will be achieved where possible through attrition and voluntary buyouts before involuntary layoffs.

He said the company will also “aggressively reduce overall spending in 2017 in non-labor areas.”

Ray Goforth, executive director of Boeing’s white-collar engineering union — the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA — said the process Boeing is

“This is all stuff we negotiated into that contract,” Goforth said. “We knew the company was going to lay off significant numbers of people. We wanted to make it as painless as possible.”

He said that of the jobs cuts through the end of November, 70 percent were voluntary.

Last year, a combination of leaving open positions unfilled, buyouts and forced layoffs slashed the Boeing workforce in Washington state by 7,357 jobs — a 9.3 percent reduction overall.

More in Herald Business Journal

At last, big new Boeing 777X takes flight from Paine Field

The plane flew for the first time Saturday. “All flight controls are good, very solid,” one of the pilots reported.

Concerns, questions delay Everett Station Improvement Area

The Everett Station District Alliance disputed criticism and was confident it had enough support.

Where is the sharing economy taking us?

Privacy and its exchange transactions represent a daunting set of problems for economic theory.

Boeing mulls another cut to 787 output in new threat to cash

The planemaker is grappling with low sales for wide-body aircraft in a market glutted with used models.

8 ways the 737 Max is still walloping American and Southwest

Planes are more full than ever due to a shortage of them.

Boeing’s new CEO sees 737 Max production resuming in spring

David Calhoun believes passengers will fly on the plane when they see pilots getting on board.

Livestream here: Boeing will try to fly the 777X at 1o a.m.

The plane sat on the runway 3 hours through rain and wind before aborting its planned Friday flight.

Grounded Boeing jet holds back profits, growth at airlines

American Airlines said it canceled 10,000 flights in the fourth quarter because of the idled planes.

Seattle commuters fume at cost of Uber, Lyft after shooting

A block was taped off, and buses in the area were rerouted and far behind schedule during rush hour.

Most Read