Boeing plans to lay off 170 workers in region; offers buyouts

EVERETT — The Boeing Co. announced more layoffs and a new round of buyouts late last week for workers around Puget Sound.

The company continues to trim its workforce as it cuts costs to make up for market pressures and to make good on promises to boost profits and payouts for shareholders.

At least 170 people received layoff notices Friday — 111 members of the Machinists union and 62 white-collar workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). It is not clear how many non-union workers were laid off.

Boeing is following through on the plan outlined to employees in December, Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokesman Paul Bergman said. “In an ongoing effort to increase overall competitiveness and invest in our future, we are reducing costs and matching employment levels to business and market requirements.”

Cutting labor costs includes managers and executives, and involves layoffs, buyouts, attrition and leaving open positions empty, he said.

On Thursday, the company offered buyouts to some white-collar workers, including many SPEEA members in Washington and Oregon. “Our business environment and the amount of voluntary attrition this year will determine any additional need for voluntary or involuntary layoffs,” the announcement to workers said.

The planned last day for workers taking the deal is June 23.

Boeing executives have indicated they aim to cut jobs this year at about the same rate as 2016, when the company reduced its workforce by 8.5 percent. The company’s commercial airplane division was cut by about 5 percent. At the end of February, Boeing had 147,683 workers. About half work at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and 71,036 are in Washington.

Today, SPEEA represents about 18,650 Boeing workers, most in Puget Sound. That is about 500 fewer members than it had at the start of the year. Since early 2016, it has lost about 1,700 members.

In late January, 167 SPEEA members were laid off by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and 34 were let go by Boeing Defense, Space and Security. About 300 more took buyouts offered to union members that month. Another 1,500 Machinists union members took the buyouts.

The company will not say how many non-union employees took the buyout.

“We’ve been told that no one who’s asked for a voluntary layoff has been turned down,” SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich said.

More layoffs are expected in late April, he said.

A spokeswoman with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751, which represents about 30,000 Boeing workers, said the company has not said whether more job cuts are coming or when.

However, workers at Boeing Defense, Space and Security’s helicopter plant near Philadelphia are expecting layoff notices in April, an official with United Aerospace Workers Local 1069 told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday. The union represents about 1,370 of 4,500 workers at Boeing’s Ridley Park plant, where it assembles powerful twin-rotor Chinooks and V-22 Ospreys.

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

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