Spirit AeroSystems' professional and technical union is asking members to contact the Kansas Congressional delegation to protest the company's outsourcing of jobs.
Spirit AeroSystems has outsourced some information technology jobs, most of them on its help desk, to IBM. The change eliminated jobs for 37 Spirit employees and 15 contractors. It was effective Oct. 30.
Another wave of cuts is coming sometime next year, Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace officials say.
The move could affect hundreds of Spirit information technology jobs, they say.
"There's more to come — a lot more than 37," said SPEEA Midwest director Bob Brewer.
"Wichita and the state of Kansas cannot afford to allow this corporation to outsource Wichita's best jobs," the letter reads. It's signed by the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers and is posted on SPEEA's Web site for people to sign and forward.
The letter is addressed to Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts and Rep. Todd Tiahrt.
Spirit is focusing on what information technology work should be done in-house and what should be provided by vendors, said Spirit spokesman Ken Evans.
Spirit's information technology employees have been informed of the effort from the outset and that it is ongoing, Evans said.
"This is not new," Evans said. "Spirit is simply going about determining how best to support our emerging global business strategy. That we were not doing this kind of due diligence would be a surprise."
The 37 employees have been offered positions elsewhere in the company, Evans said.
Increasingly, Spirit is a global company, Evans said.
Spirit has seven facilities in five countries. In addition to the U.S., it has operations in the United Kingdom, China, Russia and Malaysia.
"Fluency in world languages is a must," Evans said of the change in help desk operations. "When a trouble call is received in Mandarin, we have to be able to trouble-shoot quickly."
The protest isn't fair, Evans said, "especially when you take into account everything that Spirit has been doing last year and this year in an effort to protect jobs."
It's one of a few employees in the area not to have had to take large layoffs.
"That's not by accident," Evans said.
The union says that the employees were told that they don't have the global skills necessary.
But "Spirit management declined to explain what these necessary skills are, or offer training to keep Wichita workers employed," the letter said.
The effort to outsource information technology work "is a huge, huge mistake on Spirit's part," Brewer said. "I see all the time that people are pulling their IT work in-house because the contracts don't provide what they think it will."
The letter asks Brownback, Roberts and Tiahrt to contact Spirit CEO Jeff Turner and "demand that he, and Spirit's Canadian owners, reverse course and abide by their commitment to enhance the Kansas economy and not pick it clean."
The employees should get assistance and training "so that they can obtain the global skills Spirit claims are more prevalent in Argentina, India, Canada and other countries," it said.