About 20 employees of The Boeing Co.’s Spokane fabrication plant will get their official 60-day warning notification today that they will be laid off.
This is the first of two rounds of layoffs that will take place at the local plant, which employs 460 workers. The second round, scheduled for the end of July, will involve about the same number of people, according to Diane Ressler, public affairs manager for the Boeing plant.
Responding to a worldwide slump in airplane orders, Boeing has eliminated more than 48,000 jobs nationwide since 1989. After absorbing those losses, Boeing surprised industry analysts by announcing 7,000 more layoffs this year, 6,500 in Washington state.
But Ressler said Thursday that this first round of layoffs locally is not directly related to those cutbacks.
“The folks getting their notice (today) are in administrative support jobs,” Ressler said, “and the layoffs are part of our cost reduction issue.”
Apart from declining airline orders, Ressler explained, Boeing customers have told the company that its airplanes are too expensive. The company has formulated a plan “to be more productive with fewer people,” Ressler said.
The layoffs scheduled at the end of July will be production-line jobs. They will get their 60-day warning notices at the end of May. But if the company’s production demands go up between now and then, Ressler said, fewer jobs will be eliminated.
Boeing orders have been picking up in recent months. Last week, Scandinavian Airline System ordered 35 Boeing 737’s in a deal worth $1.16 billion. The airplanes are due for delivery in 1998.
But Ressler pointed out that long lead times for orders mean the effects are slow to filter down to the manufacturers of aircraft components, like the Spokane plant, where heating and cooling ducts and floor panels are fabricated.
“Orders for planes that are to be delivered in 1998 or 1999 won’t help our immediate situation,” Ressler said.