Cites Defense Budget Cuts
Boeing announced it will cut 25 percent of its work force -- or
900 jobs -- in three rounds of layoffs at its Wichita, KS
facilities. Those layoffs will begin Tuesday, with approximately
360 workers receiving 60-day layoff notices.
Boeing says a review of the funds Boeing is likely to receive in
the wake of tightened defense budgets -- and a reassessment of the
site's future business plan -- led to the layoffs.
"Since December 2005, our customers have informed us of
significant shifts in their budget and programs," Boeing Wichita
general manager Derek McLuckey said Monday to the Wichita Eagle.
"This has a profound impact on the work we perform and has forced
us to refocus our business in Wichita."
"The layoffs... are unfortunate but necessary to meet the
challenges of our business," McLuckey added.
Boeing's decision will reduce the number of workers at its
Wichita plants from 3,600 to about 2,700 by early 2007 -- but the
impact will be felt throughout the community in even greater
numbers, said Janet Harrah, director of the Center for Economic
Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.
The jobs to be cut were high-paying jobs, Harrah said, but
that's not the worst of it: each job at Boeing supports two other
service-sector jobs in Wichita's economy. Including the roughly $69
million to be cut from Boeing's total Wichita payroll, the cuts
represent about $145.1 million in lost payroll for the Wichita
Boeing's decision comes as the aerospace industry as a whole is
gearing up for increased commercial and military contracts -- but
other programs are being cut, and most of those were programs the
Wichita plant played key roles in.
The FY2007 defense budget scaled back the E-4B mobile command
center aircraft program, for example, and scaled back the Airborne
Laser program -- projects that were being handled in Wichita. The
budget also did not include money to equip B-52 bombers with
electronics jamming systems -- a program that Boeing
Wichita was in the running for.
After the layoffs and subsequent restructuring, McLuckey said
the Wichita site will focus primarily on military programs
involving the Boeing 747 and wide-body aircraft modifications and
The Wichita facilities will also continue as an engineering
center -- for how long, however, is a question many in Wichita are
"Are we on a glide slope to a plant closure here?" asked Bob
Brewer, Midwest director for the SPEEA union, which represents
about 140 of the workers due to get their pink slips.
Boeing's McLuckey maintains that is not the case -- and that
furthermore, the company is going out of its way to help those who
are losing their jobs in Wichita to find new jobs.
To that end, Boeing has opened an Employee Transition Center,
which will offer computers, Internet access, a fax machine,
printers and telephones to assist in job searches. The company will
also offer classes on resume writing, job hunting and interviewing
skills in the coming weeks.
The Eagle reports Boeing is also working with a variety of
agencies -- such as the United Way of the Plains, and the Kansas
Department of Labor -- to establish an information center about
available community resources for displaced workers.