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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: layoffs

At least 2,300 teachers notified of a potential layoff…

At least 2,300 school teachers have gotten notices saying they might be laid off, and the number is expected to rise, according to the Washington Education Association.

From a statement put out by the 82,000-member union:

The 2,300 figure does not include jobs eliminated through attrition, such as retirements. The final number of lost teaching jobs is expected to be much higher. The impact on schools is the same either way: Fewer teachers and more students in each classroom.

School districts also are laying off education support professionals, including classroom aides, secretaries and other classified school employees. There is no legal deadline for issuing layoff notices to classified staff.

Speaking to a gathering of WEA members in Spokane yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she sympathized, but that everyone’s sharing in the pain of budget cuts. And she has repeatedly said that basic education was shielded from cuts that were far deeper in other sectors of state spending. From an AP story:

Gregoire said she was at a loss to make teachers feel better in the present economic climate.

 

“…I can’t express in words how disappointed I am, as I know you are, that as a result of the nation’s financial crisis that hit our state like a ton of bricks in November, we have retreated from that progress,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown also spoke, telling WEA delegates that the state’s sales-tax-based tax structure needs to be revamped to be more stable and fair. Brown has floated the idea of a state income tax on people earning $250,000 or more, although the idea went nowhere in Olympia this year. She told delegates she would need their help for such a change.

Boeing to shed 4,500 jobs

Boeing says that it’s Commercial Airplanes workforce will shrink by about 4,500 jobs in 2009 “as part of an effort to ensure competitiveness and control costs in the face of a weakening global economy.”

The cuts, according to the company, will bring employment at its Commercial Airplanes division to about 63,500, or about the same as it was at the start of last year. The division added 5,000 jobs in 2008.

From the company’s press release:

“We are taking prudent actions to make sure Boeing remains well positioned in today’s difficult economic environment,” said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“We have made significant strides in recent years to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, but we still face challenges that we must address,” Carson said. “We regret the disruption to those affected by this decision, but we believe that acting now will allow us to be in a financial position to adapt to market uncertainties, meet our customer commitments, continue investing in our current and future product lines, and protect our competitiveness in a fiercely competitive business environment.”

The company says that attrition and reduced use of contract labor will account for some of the lost jobs, but that “layoffs of Beoing employees also are necessary.”

Many of the job reductions will be in overhead functions and other areas not directly associated with airplane production. This will enable Boeing to continue focusing on successfully executing new airplane development programs, delivering airplanes to customers, continuously improving productivity and quality, and supporting customer airplanes in the fleet.

Most of the reductions are expected to occur in Washington state in the second quarter of the year. Affected employees will receive 60-day notices beginning in late February. 

In Olympia, Gov. Chris Gregoire called the move “sad and disappointing, and yet more evidence of the deepening national recession.”

She said she’d talked with Boeing CEO Scott Carson. I have been in touch with Scott Carson, Boeing’s chief executive and president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“While I understand this was a business decision, I feel for those workers and their families,” she said. She pledged rapid help with unemployment claims and job-seeking from the state’s Employment Security Department for laid-off workers.
 
As Gregoire pointed out, Boeing’s move follows record-high unemployment claims filed last month in Washington. She said she’s working with Congress and President-elect Obama on a federal stimulus plan. Gregoire also says she’ll soon announce a state stimulus plan “to fund ready-to-go projects.”

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Patty Murray calle the news another reminder that the recession’s hitting Washington.

“Boeing is part of the lifeblood of our region and when Boeing hurts, Washington state hurts,” she said. She echoed Gov. Gregoire’s comments about working with the new administration.
 


Pend Oreille mine closure becomes official: layoff notice for 165 filed with state

Canadian mining company Teck Cominco has filed paperwork with Washington state, three weeks after announcing that it intended to temporarily close its Pend Oreille zinc mining and milling operations near Metaline Falls, has made it official.

The company’s notice says it intends to lay off 165 workers, effective Feb. 16.

“This layoff is permanent,” reads the layoff notice, filed with the state Employment Security Department. (I have pasted a copy of the notice in the extended version of this post.)

The company announced Dec. 15 that “due to reduced metal demand and the persistent weakness in zinc prices” it would temporarily shut its Pend Oreille operations. The closure followed a recent decision to reduce zinc refining at its Trail site in British Columbia, the company said.

The company says that in February, its operation “will move to a care and maintenance status” to keep the mine compliant with environmental and other permits and “in prime condition to return to production when market conditions improve.” The workers will get severance pay and other benefits, the company said.

Teck had re-started the mine in 2004. According to the company, it has produced 170,000 tons of zinc.

The notice was filed by Teck Washington, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teck Cominco Limited.



 

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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