Area defense work not among 10 percent of workforce cuts announced by Boeing
By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
The recent announcement that Boeing would be cutting 10 percent of its workforce resonated through the St. Louis area – an area with about 16,000 workers employed by Boeing.
But Earl Schuessler, president and directing business representative of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Lodge 837, says St. Louis workers are not only safe from layoff, but Boeing is hiring in St. Louis.
“We’re a different animal from the West Coast manufacturers. We have defense contracts escalating for a couple of years and we’ll continue to grow the next three to four years,” Schuessler said. “Boeing says they want to hire another 120 to 200 more union members this year.”
Schuessler said St. Louis is the technical center of the Boeing Defense systems manufacturing and secured increased stability when the federal government awarded Boeing an $805.3 million contract to design, build and deliver four unmanned drones. The drone, the MQ-25A Stingray, will be used to refuel aircraft for the U.S. Navy.
A Boeing spokesman said the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry cut deep into the number of commercial jets and services customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on production lines and in offices.
“The ongoing stability of Boeing’s defense, space and related services businesses will help Boeing limit the overall impact, and the company will continue hiring talent to support critical programs and meet our customers evolving needs,” the spokesperson added.
“They have a need for workers here,” Schuessler said. “Last year, as well as our F15s and F18s, we won contracts for The TX trainer jet and we won the government contract for the aerial tanker plane. Those programs are growing. Our members went crazy, frankly when we were designated as essential personnel. Boeing can’t afford to shut down in St. Louis. And that’s going in my bag at contract time.”
LAYOFFS ON BOEING’S COMMERCIAL SIDE
Boeing is laying off 6,770 workers across its U.S. facilities as the company struggles with financial woes brought on by the coronavirus outbreak and the company’s troubled 737 Max planes.
The company first announced the layoffs in late April following first quarter losses of $641 million and was forced to take a nearly $14 billion loan from several banks earlier this year.
“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,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said.