WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Spirit Aerosystems is implementing short workweek starting Friday, June 21 in wake of 737 MAX issues.
The company is shortening the workweek to 32 hours (20% per-week salary impact) for all salaried, management and executive employees working on commercial airplane programs. Employees on the Strategic Defense program are not impacted.
Spirit is attempting to reduce costs as it deals with the impacts of the 737 MAX grounding.
After discussions with Spirit AeroSystems regarding impacts to SPEEA-represented employees, the SPEEA Executive Board accepted the company’s plan for implementing contract provisions allowing shortened workweeks for employees in the Wichita Engineering Unit (WEU) and Wichita Technical and Professional Unit (WTPU).
The WTPU contract (see below) allows shortening workweeks to 32 hours for up to 10 weeks. The WEU contract (also below) actually allows the company to save an equivalent amount with a 24-hour workweek for five weeks (40% per-week salary impact). However, Spirit’s plans call for a 32-hour workweek for both the WTPU and WEU for up to 10 weeks. The SPEEA Executive Board concurred with this contract deviation.
Spirit said employees have the flexibility to take either Monday or Friday off during the workweek. Other options require management approval.
SPEEA said it’s not ideal but better than layoffs.
“I wouldn’t say we agree with it, but like you said the lesser of two evils to make sure that people are still employed,” said SPEEA Midwest Director B.J. Moore. “Even though it’s going to be a shorter work week.”
Aviation analysts said they aren’t surprised by Spirit’s move as the company is the largest supplier of the 737 max program.
“But this grounding and of course the associated delay in deliveries resumption seems to be taking longer than people had expected,” said Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group.
Vacations and ETO
Scheduled vacations are unaffected. However, only 32 hours of ETO will be paid out per week. Additionally, while Earned Time Off (ETO) cannot be used to cover the day off, represented-employees with sufficient ETO hours banked can still “cash out” up to 80 hours of ETO two times during the year – one on their anniversary and at another time of their choosing during the year.
Spirit has reduced indirect costs already, including the elimination of the majority of their non-Spirit personnel on site. They have committed to eliminating the remainder of the non-Spirit personnel, with the exception of less than a dozen cleared to work on a defense program.
Spirit is working with the Kansas Department of Labor to secure up to $38 per week in unemployment benefits for impacted workers. The company and SPEEA are also investigating options for additional assistance for employees (e.g. how to deal with financial institutions in temporary situations such as these).
SPEEA contract administrators will monitor the implementation of the shortened workweek and its impact on represented employees to ensure compliance with our contracts and agreements with Spirit. Represented employees are encouraged to bring their questions and concerns to their Council Rep. (Find your Council Rep.)
Spirit Aerosystems statement:
As part of the company’s coordinated response to the temporary change in production rates for the Boeing 737 MAX, Spirit AeroSystems is taking additional specific actions to minimize disruptions to employees, suppliers and the company.
Today, Spirit communicated to Wichita and Oklahoma hourly employees (IAM-, IBEW- and UAW-represented) that they will be allowed to take an additional, voluntary, unpaid personal day on Friday, July 5, extending the July 4 holiday.
Separately, the company communicated to employees that beginning June 21, and ending on August 29, Spirit SPEEA- WEU- and WTPU-represented and all other salaried/management/executive, employees, including the CEO and senior leadership, will begin four-day work weeks for a period of 10 weeks.
Due to the nature of Spirit’s strategic defense projects, none of those employees will be included in these actions.
Spirit leadership recognizes the hardship these actions will have on our employees and has worked to identify options that will minimize the impact to employees and their families as much as possible. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we appreciate their support during this period. These steps follow other actions announced by Spirit that include reducing overtime and the use of contractors, as well as suspending hiring to backfill open positions.
The company will continue to look for cost-saving opportunities and other ways to increase efficiencies across our programs.