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Spirit AeroSystems issues pink slips

Keywords: Tags  Spirit AeroSystems, layoffs, buyout rumor, SPEEA, Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerosapce, Boeing, Airbus, labor dispute Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Spirit AeroSystems Inc. is laying off 360 employees amid stock market rumors that the aerospace subcontractor might be in play.

Employees given furlough notices included salaried support and management personnel in Kansas and Oklahoma, the Wichita, Kansas-based airframe manufacturer said. The reduction was described by Spirit as a "strategic move to make the company more competitive in a cost-sensitive environment."

Meanwhile, a Spirit spokesman declined to comment on reports that British supply chain manufacturer GKN Plc might bid for part or all of the company. Spirit’s common stock closed at $25.45 per share on the New York Stock Exchange July 25, up 5.7 percent from a day earlier.

"We recognize the rumor is out there," but have no announcement to make on that, the spokesman said.

The layoffs confirm earlier claims by Spirit’s largest white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), that the company was looking to cut its work force. An SPEEA spokesman in Tukwila, Wash., also confirmed that the "layoffs did start" for its members, with more than 200 workers given pink slips.

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.

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. It subsequently spun off as an independent company.

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