Thursday, March 15, 2012
Thousands of Boeing workers will learn their fate in the next couple of days. The Wichita plant announced in January that it is leaving town. Now, many Boeing workers worry about the future of their jobs... even if they do get an offer.
The anxiety level among Boeing workers who have dedicated thier lives to the company here in Wichita is surely high today. More than 2,000 workers at the Wichita plant will meet 1-on-1 with upper management over the next two days to find out their future.
"I believe tomorrow and Monday, they could be seeing basically how their future's going to unfold here at Boeing," said SPEEA Midwest Executive Director Bob Brewer.
Boeing announce in January that it would end its nearly century-long presense in Wichita by closing the remaining defense plant. Today, the wonder and worry is high.
"Even people who get job offers, their lives are going to be disrupted, Brewer explained. "They're going to be relocating. Children are going to be pulled out of school. There may be people who commute for a while until the end of the school year. We don't know how this will all play out yet."
Employees who do get job offers will have three weeks to decide if they want to relocate, according to Brewer. Over the next few days, the company will meet with each and every one of the 2,100 remaining employees.
Sentiment at the plant Thursday was one of angst.
"I doubt that it'll be for the hourly employees," said Doug Frye. "I think (it will be) for the salary employees. Everybody's hoping it'll be hourly, but I don't expect much. Probably a shaft."
"Nobody knows because a lot of people clocked out early today," said another employee. "They're going home. Nobody's talking. We just don't know."
Boeing faced heavy criticism for the decision to close the Wichita plant after state and local leaders worked tirelessly to help the company gain a multi-billion dollar contract to revamp the US Air Force tanker fleet.
"It's going to be a very difficult next two days," Brewer said. "It's going to be difficult in the workplace."
The company plans to move about half of its Wichita workforce to Oklahoma City or San Antonio. Many of the employees who work on the tanker project will move to the Seattle area. Boeing has said the Wichita facility will be mothballed by the end of 2013.