ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Some assembly workers at Boeing's St. Louis facility could be out of a job in two years as the aerospace and defense company announced Wednesday it will complete the last of its contracted military transport planes.
Nearly 3,000 workers in Long Beach, Calif.; Macon, Ga.; Mesa, Ariz.; and St. Louis are involved in the production of the C-17 Globemaster III. The decision will affect 200 machinist union jobs in St. Louis.
Boeing has built approximately 270 C-17s over the last 20-plus years, delivering 223 planes to the United States Air Force. The remaining planes were sold to U.S. allies Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and NATO.
In a conference call with media outlets, Boeing said not all 3,000 workers will be laid off. The company will try to find other places for those employees within the company. They say they do not expect workforce reduction until 2014, the bulk of which will begin in mid-2014.
There are no firm decisions about C-17 facilities, but it is doubtful another production program will move into the site. St. Louis assembly will start to shut down next year.
District 837 Union representatives say the news isn't great, but it's not devastating and they hope to work with Boeing to find other opportunities.
"I think people knew that everything would be okay," says Kevin Klein who has been working for Boeing for nearly 30 years and says most of his co-workers are calm about the news.
Several supplier employees will also be affected.
"RTI in Washington, Mo. does flat metal work and GKN does mostly machining and some fabrication," said Machinist Union, District 837 spokesperson Gordon King.
Approximately 2,000 of the jobs are located in Long Beach, supporting local businesses in California. This is the last major production line in Long Beach.
Thirteen of 22 planes still to be produced do not have firm orders at this time. Of the remaining nine, seven are for the Indian Air Force, and two for an unnamed international customer.
Boeing officials say they reached this momentous decision last week, after an ongoing discussion about the dissolution of the program. The timing for the end was based on future international orders, though sequestration also played a role.
Even though this news was expected at some point, aircraft employees aren't used to programs just ending.
"It takes a long time, it's not often at all," said Klein.