Upbeat Mood Among Hawker Employees

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Today's news came as a welcome relief to thousands of Hawker Beechcraft employees who have been worrying about their jobs for months. But is the news all good?

The news was clearly a boost to the mood among employees Tuesday, and not just for them. Some say this should be positive news for the entire community.

"Good news, yeah!" said one employee leaving for his lunch break.

Employees had already been given the news by lunchtime Tuesday that their jobs and livelihoods appear to be safe.

"I think the company will make a difference $40-million or not," said another employee at Plant 4. "The company's going to be in good shape, I think. It's tough right now, but there is lots of stuff going on. I think they're making the right decisions."

Some employees, though, were still cautiously optimistic after hearing the state's multi-million dollar grant is contingent on Hawker keeping its local workforce above 4,000. That still leaves room for more layoffs, as the company currently has about 5,000 workers.

"The economy is still kinda down and the whole business is still kinda down," said another employee on lunch break. "I'm sure there will be more layoffs across the board for all companies."

The union that represents many of these workers also worries that this doesn't necessarily mean that everybody's jobs are completely safe.

"I'm sure there are still plans to move some of them out of here and we'd like to see them all stay here," said Steve Rooney, president of the local machinists union. "There are some of the jobs remaining, but I'm not sure what product lines. We're waiting to sit down and meet and go through all the details and to hear that."

Rooney still contends that much of the aerospace work lost in Wichita over the last few years likely won't ever return, but today's news is definitely a step in the right direction.

"As long as the plant remains here, then we can see work when it does turn and start to come back," Rooney said. "We can see the jobs grow here in Wichita and that's goodness for everybody."

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