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Originally published May 10, 2013 at 6:12 PM | Page modified May 14, 2013 at 2:24 PM

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Corrected version

Boeing to shed 1,500 IT jobs here over next three years

Boeing will inform its information-technology workers Monday that 1,500 IT jobs in the Puget Sound region will go away in the next three years through a combination of layoffs, attrition and relocation to Missouri and South Carolina.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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Boeing will shed 1,500 information-technology positions in the Puget Sound region over the next three years, the company plans to announce Monday.

The cuts will affect almost a third of the total 4,700 Boeing IT positions here, and continue a wave of job reductions that has hit several corners of the company since March.

Managers were briefed this week on the plan, and Boeing spokesman Andrew Favreau confirmed the details Friday.

The IT positions include systems engineers, applications developers and database administrators. The nonunion workers are mostly highly trained, middle-aged and well-paid with good medical and pension benefits.

Favreau said the cuts will come through a combination of layoffs, attrition from retirements, and relocation of some jobs to two new IT centers Boeing is establishing in St. Louis, Mo., and North Charleston, S.C.

The company will offer severance packages to some employees who volunteer for layoff, he said.

The first layoff notices under the plan went out in March to about 150 local employees, with those layoffs due this month. Another round of layoffs is set for September.

At Boeing, IT work covers a vast range of activities, from maintaining desktops, printer networks and enterprisewide communications, to developing customized applications and integrating them into Boeing systems, to collaborating with engineering teams to ensure they have the tools they need when designing new airplanes.

Boeing has about 7,900 IT employees nationwide. Favreau said the company doesn’t yet know the total number to be cut over the next three years.

Boeing’s Chicago-based chief information officer, Kim Hammonds, in March unveiled a three-year restructuring plan for the IT division that included migrating work from Southern California and the Puget Sound region to two new “centers of excellence” in Missouri and South Carolina.

The plan also included outsourcing more IT work, with a goal to increase the percentage of work outsourced from 45 percent to more than 50 percent. And some IT workers who remained in the Puget Sound region would be reclassified to lower-level positions.

Boeing said at the time it anticipated shedding up to 800 IT jobs companywide.

Two months later, that’s risen to 1,500 jobs in the Puget Sound region alone.

“As we continue to figure things out, the numbers have changed,” said Favreau. “Everything continues to be in flux.”

One 26-year Boeing IT veteran, who asked not be identified, said those who have been at the company a long time “feel it’s a move to get rid of older, higher-paid workers and replace them with new hires and outsourcing.”

He said his manager told him the two new IT centers in Missouri and South Carolina will grow initially to 600 people at each, but that only 300 to 400 of the 1,200 total are expected to be existing Puget Sound-area employees. The rest will be new hires or contract labor.

“They’ve told us how expensive it is to live and do business in the Puget Sound area. They have a hard time competing with Microsoft and other high-tech companies,” he said. “They intend to move that work to lower-cost areas of the country.”

He said despite the cost savings, the disruption in IT services could hurt Boeing in the longer term.

A senior IT veteran who was laid off from Boeing earlier this year and is still in close touch with former colleagues echoed those concerns.

“Heritage Boeing people, we have bull's-eyes on our backs,” he said. “They consider us too expensive.”

Hammonds has scheduled a webcast with all IT employees Monday morning to deliver details.

It’s just the latest in a wave of local job cuts at Boeing.

Last month, the Commercial Airplanes unit announced it will reduce its engineering staff, mostly manufacturing engineers, by up to 1,700 positions by the end of this year.

The cuts will come through attrition and as many as 700 layoffs.

In March, the commercial unit announced it would cut some 2,000 to 2,300 machinist jobs this year. Again, this will be achieved through attrition and about 800 layoffs.

That same month, Boeing laid off local defense-side workers, including a group of about 40 software engineers who had been updating the airborne warning and control system (AWACS) fleet of aircraft.

In addition, Boeing is doing a study on the potential transfer of some Commercial Airplane Services (CAS) engineering work from the Puget Sound region to Long Beach, Calif.

CAS managers told employees in March that the engineering support provided to airlines operating planes that are no longer produced, such as the 757 or the 737 classic jets, could be shifted.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

This story, published May 11, 2013, was updated May 15. It originally said the Commercial Airplane Services (CAS) engineering work Boeing may transfer to Long Beach, Calif., is now in Everett. That work is now done in Tukwila.

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