Boeing workers in western Washington bracing for big job cuts

RENTON, Wash. -- Union workers at Boeing are bracing for significant job cuts in western Washington.

The first round of cuts started with 2,500 voluntary layoffs and buyouts. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said the company is now moving on to involuntary layoffs, with the first 6,770 affected workers being notified this week.

Calhoun last month that the aerospace giant plans to shed 10 percent of its 160,000 employees, but it will be 15-20 percent of the workforce in Washington and California, according to reports.

9,840 Boeing jobs will be cut before July 31 in a combination of buyouts and involuntary layoffs, according to The Seattle Times.

Calhoun has said in the past that profit margins are not expected to return to 2019 levels for another three years. The company has been hit hard by the pandemic and the drastic commercial air travel slowdown, on top of two deadly plane crashes that have partially been attributed to faulty engineering systems.

"The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices. We have done our very best to project the needs of our commercial airline customers over the next several years as they begin their path to recovery," Calhoun said in a news release.

Union officials told the Journal that the first round, the voluntary layoffs, impacted the commercial airplanes operations in the greater Seattle area.

Roughly 1,300 members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, Boeing’s main engineering union, accepted voluntary buyouts, the union said. Another union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said about 1,200 of its union members also accepted voluntary layoffs.

"I wish there were some other way," Calhoun said.