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1,800 unionized Boeing employees accept buyouts

Boeing eliminated 7,400 positions in 2016 and said it expects to eliminate a similar number this year.

By Ed Adamczyk
1,800 unionized Boeing employees accept buyouts
The machinists' union that represents Boeing workers said about 1,500 machinists will accept a buyout offer that includes one week of severence pay for every year of service and six months of medical coverage. File Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo

March 3 (UPI) -- More than 1,800 unionized employees of Boeing will leave the company through voluntary buyouts, two unions announced.

Personnel cuts in Boeing's commercial aircraft division, where the formerly Seattle-based company has about half of its 75,000 employees, were announced in December. The International Association of Machinists, which represents workers in Washington State, said about 1,500 of its members will accept the offered buyouts, which include a week of severance pay for every year of service and six months of medical coverage. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, representing engineers and aircraft inspectors, said 305 members will also accept buyouts, involving the same severance pay but only three months of medical coverage.

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Nonunion employees were also offered buyouts, but Boeing did not offer information on how many accepted the offer.

Boeing cut 7,400 jobs at its Washington State plants in 2016, and Ray Conner, vice chairman of the company, warned in December that additional cuts would follow, citing "fewer sales opportunities and tougher competition."

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In 2016, Boeing slashed 2,100 jobs held by machinists' union members, all through attrition or voluntary buyouts.

Bill Dugovich of the engineers' union said Boeing told union officials to expect 2017 personnel reductions to be "in line with last year."

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About 1,200 members of the engineers' union lost their jobs at Boeing in 2016, 350 coming through involuntary layoffs.

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Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman said additional cuts are expected, commenting, "Every few months, there's going to be another group going through this."

In February, President Donald Trump visited a non-union Boeing plant in South Carolina as it unveiled the company's newest plane.

"Already, American industry is roaring back. Jobs is one of the primary reasons I am standing here today as your president," Trump said at the unveiling.

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