Boeing to shed 2,500 workers in initial phase of voluntary layoffs: report

Boeing to shed 2,500 workers in initial phase of voluntary layoffs: report
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Boeing will announce this week that it will shed about 2,500 workers in its first phase of voluntary layoffs due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, union officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Union officials told the newspaper that the first round of layoffs will focus on the Seattle-area commercial airplanes population and could be announced as early as Friday.

About 1,300 members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace applied for the voluntary layoff package and were accepted, a union official told The Hill. About 1,200 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers also accepted the layoffs.

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The engineering union told the Journal that some applications from employees working on defense programs or with critical skills were denied.

Last month, company executives announced that Boeing planned to reduce its global workforce by about 10 percent, including cutting jobs in its services arm and central corporate offices.

Boeing will reduce the production of its 787 twin-aisle jets by half and only develop limited numbers of its 737 Max jet in the quarter as it waits for clearance to fly the planes after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Suppliers to Boeing’s factories in Seattle have already cut employees, state employment records show, according to the newspaper. Boeing’s competitor Airbus SE has dropped production by a third, and General Electric has laid off thousands. 

A Boeing spokesperson said the first round of layoffs will be the "largest segment" of "several thousand remaining layoffs" in the upcoming months.

The layoffs align with a growing trend among companies around the world, as the coronavirus has thrown a wrench into their financial expectations for the year. This is the first major job reduction in Boeing since 2017 when the company participated in a cost-cutting drive, according to the newspaper.

--This report was updated at 12:33 p.m.