Mayor-elect discusses Spirit voluntary layoffs

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Mayor-elect Brandon Whipple takes office in six days and said he’s already paying close attention to jobs.

“I’ve been in talks with the governor’s office. I have a call with her today and the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor,” he said. “If something goes bad with Wichita’s economy it affects the entire state.”

He argues that Spirit’s welfare will impact the state’s welfare. The Aerosystems company, which is the largest employer in the city, started offering voluntary layoffs Monday.

IT follows suspended production of the 737 max. The jets have been grounded since last spring when the Federal Aviation Administration ordered Boeing to complete a full review. Since then, the jets haven’t been cleared to fly.

“I’m very worried about anything that could affect our local economy to this extent,” Whipple said. “That’s why we’re putting together a plan.”

It’s the latest in a series of bad business headlines. Textron laid off 850 people last month, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Workers inside Spirit also said they feared it there aren’t enough volunteers, layoffs could become mandatory.

Spirit hasn’t released how many workers it’s looking to remove but as the city’s next mayor prepares to take office, he knows it’s a big issue. He cites his time as the ranking member of Commerce, Labor and Economic development as helpful – giving him access to contacts in Topeka that could help in the weeks to come.

“It’s really more about the people, the welfare of the people,” he said. “welfare of the economy or in our city that’s the major focus.”

KAKE News will air more of a sit-down interview with the Mayor-elect, starting Sunday night at 10.

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