The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co. will move 1,100 engineering jobs in its international space station and space shuttle divisions from Southern California to Texas and Florida in an effort to cut costs and locate workers closer to customers, company officials said Tuesday.
The move comes as NASA attempts to curtail an estimated $4 billion in overruns connected with the space station project. The agency also has trimmed space shuttle upgrades to save money.
The relocation of Boeing employees – about 1,000 from a facility in Huntington Beach and another 100 from a Canoga Park plant – is designed to cut costs through consolidation. The move is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.
Boeing officials stressed the move is also intended to move engineers closer to major customers like NASA and the United Space Alliance, which is building the space station.
“I can’t find any reason on the planet why I don’t want to be nearer to my customer,” said Mike Mott, vice president of Boeing’s Human Space Flight & Exploration unit. “NASA likes having their contractors where they can see them, up close and personal.”
Boeing now has about 7,000 employees at its Huntington Beach facility. The headquarters of its human space flight division will remain there.
Employees who do not want to accept jobs in Houston or Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be given the chance to seek other Boeing jobs in Southern California.
Most of the affected jobs are in engineering or other professional functions. Boeing officials declined to say how much they hope to save through the move, except that it could total millions of dollars. They also insisted the effort was not an attempt to cut jobs through attrition.
Mott said worker reaction has been mixed.
“I think my popularity has gone down slightly on the Huntington Beach campus overall,” he said.
Boeing expects about one-third of the 1,100 Southern California employees to make the move.
The firm’s current space station contract is worth about $9 billion. It picked up most of that work when it acquired McDonnell Douglas.
Boeing got its shuttle contracts when it bought Rockwell International Corp.’s aerospace business. That work brings in roughly $500 million a year, company officials said.
Earlier this year, Boeing said it would cut as many as 500 jobs at its rocket manufacturing plant in Huntington Beach, as the company concentrates those operations in Colorado and Alabama.
In El Segundo, Boeing Satellite Systems is cutting 400 jobs, mostly in administrative staff, while planning to hire 200 engineers to meet growing demand for those systems.
Boeing already has 2,500 employees at the Kennedy Space Center.
“Florida’s strong business climate and labor force have essentially sealed the deal in bringing these space shuttle and international space station operations to Florida,” said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.