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Boeing Machinists Optimistic Despite Layoffs

Flickr Photo/Chuck Taylor

Boeing has announced it will lay off 800 machinists in the Puget Sound area this year. The company says workforce needs on two of its newest jet programs have been reduced.

Boeing says it will use a combination of layoffs, redeployment and attrition to cut up to 2,300 positions in the Puget Sound region this year. The 800 employees affected by layoffs are scheduled to receive their notices in April. Boeing says development of its 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo jets have stabilized, so fewer employees are needed to do refurbishing. Union officials say it could be much worse.

Connie Kelliher is the spokeswoman for Machinists District 751. “You know, it’s terrible news anytime anyone loses their job,” she said. “But this is not the start of a traditional Boeing down-cycle. Unlike past layoffs, there are no production rate decreases on any airplane line. And the production rates remain high and there’s a seven-year backlog.”

In fact, production rates for the 787 are scheduled to increase, but Boeing spokesman Doug Alder says the company believes its staffing is sufficient to meet that increase. As of February, Boeing had 86,200 employees in the region.

Alder said the layoffs are not related to the federal government’s grounding of the Dreamliner over concerns with its battery. He said while no airplanes are being delivered, production is continuing on schedule.

Year started with KUOW: 2005