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Originally published October 4, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Page modified October 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM

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Boeing warns of furloughs over shutdown

Boeing could furlough some employees in its defense and space operations next week if the federal budget stalemate continues, a spokeswoman said.

Seattle Times deputy business editor

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Boeing could furlough some employees in its defense, space and security operations next week if the federal budget stalemate continues, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Furloughs are not currently expected in the Commercial Airplanes unit, said spokeswoman Meghan McCormick in Washington, D.C. That unit employs the vast majority of Boeing’s 84,000 workers in Washington state.

On the defense side, however, “We are looking at the possibility of furloughs that could start next week,” McCormick said.

She said specifics are not available yet.

“It’s such a fluid situation” because the shutdown of some government functions affects access to federal worksites, the availability of federal inspectors and many other operations, she said.

“We’re looking at each program on a case-by-case basis.”

Some top defense contractors have already announced thousands of furloughs. Lockheed Martin will release 3,000 employees Monday and potentially more in coming weeks due to the government shutdown.

And United Technologies said it will furlough 2,000 employees by Monday, and more than 5,000 if the shutdown continues into next month.

Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes unit in Seattle is authorized to certify completed airliners and make them available to customers, so those deliveries haven’t been interrupted.

But deliveries from the Charleston, S.C., 787 factory, or deliveries of planes with new configurations, could be delayed because they require certification by Federal Aviation Administration personnel, the company said.

The company said the FAA is ensuring that “safety-critical personnel would be available in an emergency, such as an accident or any other safety issue needing immediate attention.”

Boeing’s total workforce as of Sept. 26 was 170,820, including 82,085 in the Commercial Airplanes unit and 58,474 in the defense, space and security group.

Lockheed Martin said Friday that the furloughs will affect its business nationwide. It said the number of employees put on furlough will increase weekly if the shutdown continues but did not specify how high the count could rise.

“I’m disappointed that we must take these actions and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown,” Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s CEO and president, said in a statement. “We hope that Congress and the administration are able to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”

Lockheed says the furloughs include employees who are unable to work because their government facility is closed as well as those whose work requires a government inspection or for which the company has received a stop-work order.

A prepared statement from Boeing’s defense unit said that “as the federal government shutdown progresses toward its first week, Boeing is seeing increasing effects on certain daily operations that involve U.S. government facilities and people. ... While the company is working to limit the negative impact of the shutdown on customers and employees, we expect more consequences could emerge in the coming days, including limited furloughs of employees in some areas.”

The statement continued: “At this time, specific steps related to the workforce actions (timing, which employees will be affected, how information will be provided to employees furloughed on ‘return to work’ notifications) are a work in progress.”

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Rami Grunbaum: 206-464-8541 or rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com

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