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Boeing to Move Jobs Out of State

July 31, 2001|PETER PAE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Boeing Co. is expected to announce today that it intends to transfer about 1,100 engineering jobs in its international space station and space shuttle programs from Huntington Beach to Texas and Florida as it looks to consolidate operations and trim costs.

In a blow to Southern California's aerospace industry, Boeing executives have scheduled a teleconference call with employees this morning to detail plans to move the bulk of the two programs' engineering staff to Houston and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The move comes as NASA attempts to cut costs amid an estimated $4 billion in cost overruns on the international space station. The space agency also recently cut back on some space shuttle upgrades. Shuttle workers in Palmdale, where orbiters are refurbished, are not part of the reorganization.

A small contingent of headquarters staff and the design and development group will remain in Huntington Beach, where Boeing currently has about 7,000 employees, a source familiar with the announcement said.

The move is expected to take 12 to 18 months. Employees who decline to move will be given an opportunity to seek other jobs at Boeing, the source said. A small group of employees in Canoga Park who work on some aspects of the space station also will be affected by the move.

"We're going to talk to employees, but until we do we can't comment," said Walter Rice, a Boeing spokesman.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) was informed of the impending announcement, but a spokesman for his office declined to comment until "we have something official from Boeing."

Most of the jobs Boeing will move involve engineers and other professionals, the source said. Boeing acquired its shuttle contracts when it purchased Rockwell International Corp.'s aerospace business, and it acquired most of its space station contracts when it acquired McDonnell Douglas.

The decision to move marks the first time Boeing has elected to transfer work out of California since its acquisitions made it one of the largest private employers in the state.

Earlier this year, Boeing announced it would cut 400 to 500 jobs at its Delta II rocket manufacturing facility in Huntington Beach as part of a plan to consolidate manufacturing of the rockets in Pueblo, Colo., and Decatur, Ala.

Even with the job transfers, the Huntington Beach plant will have about 2,500 more jobs than it did when Boeing bought its previous owner, McDonnell Douglas, in 1997.

El Segundo-based Boeing Satellite Systems said last week it is cutting 400 jobs, mainly in administrative and support staff, while looking to hire about 200 engineers to address a growing backlog of satellite orders.

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