Bad news has flown into town for the aviation professionals in the city of Wichita, Kansas.
This may be a surprise to many people outside of the industry but Wichita is sometimes called the, “Air Capitol” of the US (and some even say of the world), because it is home to a number of test centers for new aviation projects. While this may have given the city some protection in the past from the layoffs that have been sweeping the nation, if the current economic situation has taught us anything it is that the ax can come for anyone at any time, and acts of mercy are few and far between.
This time the layoff WARN notices came to three hundred workers in the aviation field. As you may already know a WARN notice is not a pink slip, but a notification that a pink slip will be coming in the near future. These tools help workers to prepare for the layoffs and get their resumes out as soon as possible. The layoffs numbers in this case come not from the company that is doing the laying off, they refused to disclose the exact details to a local reporter, but instead fro the local Machinists Union.
The company doing the laying off is Hawker. For those of you not familiar with the company Hawker describes itself in the following terms, “Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is a world-leading manufacturer of business, special-mission and trainer aircraft – designing, marketing and supporting aviation products and services for businesses, governments and individuals worldwide,“ on their website.
Of the 300 people being laid off only 90 of them are members of the union that provided the numbers, the remaining 210 of the non-union workers will have a lot less protection when they lose their jobs because they have no union agreement related to severance packages or notice length. The types of positions being cut include tooling workers, maintenance staff and sheet metal assemblers.
These layoffs come less than a year after the company made an agreement with the state of Kansas to keep jobs in the state. In December of 2010 the company and the state made an agreement that would keep the majority of its workers in Kansas until the year 2020. The company received a tidy sum or $40 million from the state of Kansas as part of the deal. The city and the county managed to also pull in an extra $5 million in tax-exempt bonds to allow the company to make improvements to the plant and train employees.
The company’s official statement on the matter is as follows,” Hawker Beechcraft Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture informed employees on Nov. 4 that those affected by the reduction in force would be notified on Friday, Nov. 11. Most of these employees were notified today; however we do not have a specific number to share. We can confirm that the Kansas employment level after this workforce reduction will stay well above what our partnership with the state of Kansas requires.” The company would give no other comment on the matter to reporters.Hawker Beechcraft Lays Off 300 by Harrison Barnes