Boeing announces plan to cut 2,000 jobs in defense work here; union blasts company over tax-break 'thank you'

SEATTLE -- Boeing announced Monday it plans to move a large amount of defense work out of the Puget Sound region during the next three years to other parts of the country, affecting about 2,000 jobs here.

Employees in Kent and Seattle, who will be most affected, will get details at an all-hands meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning, the Seattle Times reported. Most of the jobs are in engineering.

Boeing said the majority of the work will be relocated to Oklahoma City and St. Louis. Some additional work will be shifted to Jacksonville, Fla., and Patuxent River, Md.

"The transition could take up to three years to complete and affect about 2,000 employees" in the Puget Sound region, the news release said.

“The decision to consolidate these activities was difficult because it affects our employees, their families and their communities,” said Chris Chadwick, Boeing Defense, Space & Security president and chief executive officer.

“However, this is necessary if we are going to differentiate ourselves from competitors and stay ahead of a rapidly changing global defense environment.”

The union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), noted that the latest job losses come less than one year after Washington legislators approved $8.7 billion in tax breaks for the state’s aerospace industry, with Boeing in line to receive the lion’s share.

“The silence from Olympia is deafening,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director. “Why are Washington taxpayers subsidizing Boeing to move thousands of jobs out of state?”

The cuts will impact large segments of employees at the Boeing Kent Space Center and at the Seattle Developmental Center, with other locations also affected. SPEEA represents 914 in Kent and 920 at the Seattle Developmental Center.

Since passing the aerospace tax breaks, SPEEA said, Boeing announced plans to move 1,000 Research and Technology jobs and 1,000 Commercial Airplane Support Services jobs out of Washington state.

“Every state except Washington that offered Boeing tax breaks for the 777X program tied jobs to the legislation,” Goforth said. “Now, we have taxpayers subsidizing the movement of good engineering, technical and machinist jobs out of our state.”

Boeing said in its news release that it will try to "leverage Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ presence in Puget Sound to mitigate the impact of this decision on individual employees."

Additionally, it said, the company will provide assistance and resources for employees to help them throughout this transition, including job search resources, retirement seminars, and career counseling services.

Even with the announced moves, the company said, Boeing Defense, Space & Security "will continue a robust presence in the Puget Sound region" due to production of the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and KC-46A Tanker, which are based on the company’s 737 and 767 commercial airplanes.

Boeing said its defense business today has approximately 5,200 employees in the Puget Sound region.