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Boeing May Outsource Some Parts-Making

March 6, 2003

SEATTLE (AP) _ Boeing Co. expects to stop making some specialized airplane parts and contract that work to outside vendors, a Boeing vice president wrote in a memo to employees.

The memo Wednesday from Liz Otis, vice president and general manager for the division, told employees the continuing slump in commercial aviation is forcing the company to change to remain competitive.

``For the Fabrication Division, adapting means we will focus on the more complex and critical parts that we build for Boeing,″ she wrote. ``I hope you will understand that if we do not adapt to the current business realities, we won’t have a future for anyone.″

The memo did not specify layoffs, but it sparked concerns among the company’s work force, which has already been slashed by 30,000 people since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and faces another 5,000 reductions in 2003.

Boeing spokeswoman Deborah Dustman said the division hopes to avoid layoffs from outsourcing by reducing staff through attrition and reassigning affected workers.

The division, which employs about 8,500, is responsible for manufacturing more than 12 million parts used in Boeing jets. Its largest site is in Auburn, Wash., but the division produces parts in Frederickson, Wash., Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Arnprior, Ontario.

``We’re worried about the brain drain,″ said Bill Dugovich, a spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. ``They’re chipping away at the heart of core institutional aeronautical knowledge and that’s not something you can just capture again.″