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Union reps brace for layoffs at Spirit AeroSystems

Keywords: Tags  Spirit AeroSystems Inc., labor relations, layoofs, SPEEA, Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, Boeing Co., Airbus SAS, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES – Relations between Spirit AeroSystems Inc. and its largest white-collar union have taken another turn for the worse as the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) said it expects the company to announce layoffs as early as Thursday.

A SPEEA spokesman in Tukwila, Wash., said the union has been informed by "numerous" members as well as Spirit managers that as many as 300 engineers and technical workers at the Wichita, Kan., first-tier aerospace subcontractor will be given two weeks’ pay "and ushered out of work."

A Spirit spokesman said the company wouldn’t "speculate on rumors."

The SPEEA spokesman claimed the company is invoking a "seldom, if ever, used" provision in the labor agreement that would allow employees to be designated and released without a traditional warning period and with no recall rights.

"They are interpreting language in our contract in a way that’s never been done before," he said, adding that "we’re going to fight this, we have our attorneys working on it."

SPEEA, which represents more than 800 engineers and 2,100 technicians at Spirit, has been engaged in a dispute over the company’s interpretation of its labor agreement with the union. In June, it filed an unfair labor charge against Spirit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming the company had refused to bargain with the union and violated the grievance procedure on 15 terminations, a charge that Spirit denied. (, June 12). The two sides are still awaiting the NLRB’s decision, the SPEEA spokesman said.

The SPEEA spokesman claimed that employees targeted for dismissal are paying the price for "poor management decisions" that earlier resulted in poor financial results and Spirit is trying to "correct the situation by terminating employees."

Spirit is considered to be the largest commercial aircraft subcontractor to Chicago-based Boeing Co. It is also a supplier to Boeing’s European rival Airbus SAS. Prior to 2005 Spirit was part of Boeing, but was subsequently spun off as an independent company

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