Boeing has provided its two main unions detailed breakdowns showing they’ll each be hit heavily by the initial round of nearly 10,000 job cuts announced this week for Washington state.
The Machinists union will lose about 5,000 people, or 16% of its membership, in a combination of layoffs and buyouts. Boeing’s white-collar technical union will lose about 1,500, or 12%, of its engineers and about 1,000, or 21%, of its technical staff.
That leaves about 2,500 nonunion employees who will also lose their jobs in the state.
“This is a significant amount of knowledge and skill leaving the Boeing Company,” said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA).
Dugovich said that out of 12,703 SPEEA engineers, 697 will be laid off, in addition to the 796 who accepted the company’s recent buyout offer.
Those who accepted the buyout skewed toward older, very experienced engineers approaching retirement age. They include 24 of Boeing’s top echelon of engineers, known as Technical Fellows, and 92 Associate Technical Fellows who are just one rung lower.
In contrast, per the union contract, the employees laid off are chosen according to seniority in their job category, so mostly they will be younger, more recently hired engineers.
Boeing says that company-wide it currently employs a total of 56,000 engineers, including those at subsidiaries such as InSitu and Aurora Flight Sciences.
Out of 4,920 SPEEA technical staff — those who lack engineering degrees but do technical work such as lab testing and programming of manufacturing machines, and who act as a key link between engineers and mechanics — 542 will be laid off, in addition to 508 who took the buyout offer.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) told its 31,000 members that approximately 3,800 of them will soon receive layoff notices, in addition to the 1,150 Machinists who accepted the company buyout.
The Boeing cuts fall mostly on the commercial airplanes division, which has seen much of its near-term business prospects evaporate as airlines around the world park most of their jets and prepare to make brutal cuts in the fall.
In contrast, the defense side of Boeing’s business is still booming as the government accelerates payouts for pending contracts to its major military suppliers to compensate for the broader collapse in the economy.
Only 21 of the 1,239 SPEEA members to be laid off work on Boeing’s defense and space programs.
Boeing said that 8,640 employees at Boeing Commercial Airplanes will account for 70% of the 12,290 planned job cuts planned across the U.S. in this initial round of layoffs and buyouts. The remaining 30% are likely to be largely administrative and support jobs.
Company spokeswoman Jessica Kowal added that “due to varying laws in the states in which we operate,” layoffs around the country will be conducted on different schedules.
Outside the Puget Sound region, the main site for commercial airplane employees is in North Charleston, S.C. Kowal said the company won’t release the number of job losses at Boeing South Carolina “at this time, as the site continues to assess its requirements.”
Separately, a posting by the state Employment Security Department on Friday revealed another hit to the aerospace supply chain from the drastic industry downturn.
French supplier St. Gobain is closing its manufacturing plant in Puyallup and permanently laying off its 96 employees there. The facility, opened a decade ago, manufactures high-performance plastics and composite parts, primarily for the aerospace industry.