March 2, 2017 / 8:59 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-Boeing gets 1,880 union workers to take voluntary layoffs

(Updates number of voluntary layoffs, adds Boeing comment, information from engineering union, closing stock price)

By Alwyn Scott

SEATTLE, March 2 (Reuters) - Boeing Co has accepted 1,880 voluntary layoffs from its union machinists and engineers in the Seattle area, the unions said on Thursday, part of the jet maker's drive to cut costs through job reductions and other measures.

Boeing's machinists union, the touch labor that builds airplanes near Seattle, said about 1,575 workers had taken voluntary layoffs by the deadline in February.

Boeing's white-collar union said Boeing accepted 305 members for voluntary layoffs in January. Last year, Boeing cut about 1,200 white-collar union jobs - 850 through voluntary layoffs and 350 through involuntary reductions, said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

"Boeing has told us to expect about the same number of total layoffs in 2017 as 2016," he said.

The job reductions had been announced last year and workers had until Feb. 1 to apply.

"These are all voluntary, where people planned to retire or had other plans," said Connie Kelliher, a spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751.

COST-CUTTING DRIVE

Boeing said it did not have a specific target number for its job reductions at the commercial airplane unit but was sticking with the broad plan of reducing jobs it outlined in December.

"We are reducing costs and aligning employment levels to business and market requirements," spokesman Paul Bergman said. "Employment reductions will come through a combination of attrition, leaving open positions unfilled, voluntary layoff program and in some cases, involuntary layoffs."

Boeing offered the buyouts to workers last year as part of an 8 percent workforce reduction at its commercial airplane business. The unit had about 74,600 workers at the end of February. Boeing said in December it would cut an as-yet-undetermined number of jobs in 2017.

No machinists have had involuntary layoffs for several years, Kelliher said.

Boeing's shares closed down 0.5 percent at $182.99 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott in Seattle; Additional reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)

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