An additional 1,000 engineering jobs in the Puget Sound area will be transferred to Southern California by the end of 2015, Boeing Co. executives told Washington state employees late last week.
Many of the jobs come from the engineering group that provides technical support to those airlines that fly Boeing planes. Additionally, the 24/7 operations center that responds to airlines' technical issues will also relocate to Long Beach and Seal Beach, Calif.
Employees at Boeing's Southern California Engineering Design Center, which employees roughly 1,800 workers, will provide support for the 737, 747, 767 and 777 passenger jets. Mike Delaney, the engineering vice president at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told The Seattle Times that the move enables the aerospace giant to access California's large aerospace workforce.
Delaney said Boeing is building engineering design centers in Washington, California and South Carolina. Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said she is unaware of any engineering job changes at the North Charleston operations.
In total, more than 4,300 Boeing jobs have been moved out of Washington state, according to the Times' story. The Puget Sound will still build the 777X planes, which will require an estimated 850 engineers.
"However, some employees said the move seems intended to nudge out older, higher-paid workers and at the same time weaken the engineering union. They questioned how Boeing’s decision fits with the $9 billion in tax breaks the company obtained from the state last year," according to the story.
In November 2013, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature worked to get tax breaks approved and Boeing executives worked to get the union contract ratified for 777X work, one analyst predicted that Boeing would move jobs out of the state, according to Seattle Times' columnist Danny Westneat.
The tax breaks guaranteed a new plant, but no specific job figures, said Andy Nicholas in his testimony during public hearings last year. Nicholas is a fiscal analyst at the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, a liberal think tank in Seattle.
"He said: The deal is more of a handshake than a contract. It contains no guarantees our state will get more Boeing jobs. It also has no language to dissuade Boeing from moving thousands of jobs out of state, even as it allows the company to continue to reap the tax breaks," Westneat wrote in his column.
Watch his testimony here: