Union officials expect layoffs at Spirit AeroSystems

The 737 line at Spirit AeroSystems. (May 31, 2012)
The 737 line at Spirit AeroSystems. (May 31, 2012) The Wichita Eagle

Officials from Spirit AeroSystems’ professional and technical union say it appears the company is planning to announce layoffs on Thursday.

“It’s pretty clear that Spirit is about to engage in some negative employment action on Thursday,” Ray Goforth, Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace executive director, said in a memo to council representatives on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, Spirit labor relations claims to have no knowledge of anything being planned. Because of this breathtaking dishonesty, it’s unclear exactly what is going to occur.”

But union officials are hearing from multiple Spirit managers that a layoff is in the works, Goforth told The Eagle. Some SPEEA members are also reporting that they’ve received a notice to report to a meeting on Thursday.

In addition, a Spirit human resources vice president sent out a request Tuesday evening to reserve 35 conference rooms from 6:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, asking for meetings reserved for those rooms during that time to be relocated.

“These rooms are required. Please make arrangements to relocate currently scheduled meetings during this date/time,” said an internal e-mail signed by Justin Welner, vice president of human resources.

“The consensus picture that we have developed from various sources is that Spirit management intends to layoff multiple (possibly hundreds) of people tomorrow without giving 2 weeks notice,” Goforth’s memo to council representatives said. Instead, they will be given a check for two weeks’ pay.

Spirit spokesman Ken Evans declined comment.

“We can’t speculate about rumors, and don’t have anything to announce at this time,” Evans said in a statement.

SPEEA officials sent a memo to represented employees Wednesday reminding them “of your right to have a Council Representative or other union official present during meetings where discipline may be discussed. This includes meetings that could result in layoff or the issue of a WARN (60-day) notice,” the memo said.

Members should seek assistance “before having any discussions with Spirit management or human resources if management approaches them with a Severance/Waiver agreement,” the memo said.

Goforth called Spirit’s action “quite strange.”

“The company’s never done anything like this before,” he said. “They presumably don’t have any need (for job cuts). With Boeing rate increases and Airbus rate increases, the company should have more work than they know what to do with.”

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