Saturday, November 10, 2012

C-17A program and employees survive as Boeing plans SoCal cutbacks

While changes are in the works at Boeing Co.'s local offices, officials said Friday that there will be no layoffs at their Southland locations.

Company-wide, Boeing is reducing its number of defense executives by 30 percent from 2010 levels. Spokesman Todd Blecher said much of that has already happened, and the last 10 percent of cuts will come by year's end.

In Long Beach, home of the company's final assembly plant for the Globemaster C-17 and more than 4,000 employees, the only change is that Nan Bouchard will be the new vice president/general manager of the C-17 program and Southern California consolidation effective Jan. 1, according to Boeing officials.

Current General Manager Bob Ciesla will be moving to another assignment but it has not yet been announced. In Seal Beach, Boeing will relocate employees -- a mix of engineers, legal and marketing -- based in two buildings of 11 buildings to other regional offices. Boeing hopes to vacate the two buildings to be ready for lease by mid-2013, said spokeswoman Brittany Kuhn.

Boeing employees from two buildings in Huntington Beach will be relocated, Kuhn said. The pair is slated for demolition, she said. Kuhn would not say how many employees would be displaced but emphasized that "no jobs are being lost" in the area.

The changes are part of Boeing's overall efforts since 2010 to cut costs. While its commercial airplane business has been expanding, Boeing's defense business is suffering because of tight government spending in the U.S. and other countries.

The shake-up includes disbanding the Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems division as of Jan. 1. That unit makes things such as cruise missiles and drones that have been in high demand but which aren't needed as much as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.

The division's work will be spread to other areas, Blecher said, such as with the Missiles division becoming part of Boeing Military Aircraft's Global Strike division. The missiles and unmanned planes unit had its own finance, communications, human resources and legal staff, but that work will be spread among other Boeing defense units.

Boeing said it has cut defense facilities by 10 percent "and is looking for more over time." It did not say which facilities will be affected. The cuts include moves such as eliminating its defense plant in Wichita, Kan., which will be done by the end of next year.

Two years ago, Boeing's defense business employed 66,300 people. It's down to 60,500 now, a drop of almost 9 percent. Blecher said some workers have gone to Boeing's commercial airplanes side. Employment there has jumped from 80,000 at the beginning of the year to 85,000 now.

At the beginning of 2011, defense and commercial airplanes each made up roughly half of Boeing's business. But defense has stagnated, with revenue rising just 3 percent during the first nine months of this year, and margins turning negative, while commercial airplane growth has taken off as deliveries accelerate.

Dennis Muilenburg, the president and CEO of Boeing's defense business, said in a statement this week: "While funding for the U.S. Department of Defense is under extreme pressure, we're innovating and expanding our core, in the U.S. and around the globe, to sustain and grow our business."

(Karen Robes Meeks - Long Beach Press Telegram)

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