LOS ANGELES Boeing Co. will reduce engineering employment this year, it said, as its largest white-collar union claims the company is also actively looking to shift aircraft design work to Russia.
Chicago-based Boeing will cut 1,500 to 1,700 engineering jobs this year, Mike Delaney, vice president of engineering at Seattle-based subsidiary Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), said in a statement.
While he noted that nearly 700 contract employeeswho are normally non-unionhave left Boeings payroll since last October and further cuts will take place through attrition, he also said BCA must "unavoidably" make additional cutbacks among its direct employees. Through the rest of the year, BCA will send 60-day layoff notices to as many as 700 additional employees.
The plane builder intended to begin issuing the first of these notices April 19 to about 100 manufacturing engineering employees, "because they directly support the production system, which has been stabilizing in parts of our major development programs," Delaney noted.
Meanwhile, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), which represents more than 26,000 Boeing engineers and technicians, has charged that the cutback announcement failed to disclose what SPEEA claims is a company policy to further outsource work to Russia.
Union members have said that lately they have been "directed by management to find work to go to Russia, where Boeing operates a Moscow design center and where it has already "shifted a lot of technical work," an SPEEA spokesman in Tukwila, Wash., said.
The spokesman couldnt say if this shift is part of any overall program that would involve sending manufacturing work to Russia. Ural Boeing Manufacturing, a joint venture of Boeing and Russias VSMPO-Avisma Corp., machines titanium forgings for the Boeing 787 and 737 airliners in Verkhnaya Salda.
"But what this indicates is that while Boeing has a public face of bringing outsourcing back (to the United States), there are areas where theyre actively sending work away," he said.
A Boeing spokesman could not be reached for comment.
SPEEA engineers and technicians earlier this year signed separate three-year labor deals with Boeing that acceded to its insistence that new hires after March 1 dont receive a defined benefit pension but instead get an "enhanced 401(k)" plan (amm.com, March 19).
Delaney said that development programs for the newest versions of Boeings 777 and 787 Dreamliner programs, "which might have provided opportunities to avoid these layoffs," havent been formally approved and launched.
Boeing has already indicated it will lay off about 800 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers this year as its assembly lines for the 787 and the 747-8 programs become more efficient.