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Spirit employees anxious for answers with expected start of layoff notices

Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 5:05 PM CST
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Wednesday (Jan. 22) was the day Spirit AeroSystems said it would begin laying off about 2,800 employees. This comes as the company deals with

Wednesday came and went for first-shift workers at Spirit and at least some employees remain unsure about their futures.

"You know, you're at home. You don't know if you're going to get a phone call saying you don't have a job, and then you come to work and nobody is telling you anything, like they don't know," Spirit employee James Douglas says.

Douglas says it's frustrating he hasn't received more information to clear the uncertainty. Employees unsure about what comes next are ready for Spirit to announce the layoffs sooner rather than later.

"People got bills to pay and it's past time," Spirit employee Matthew Gerstenkorn says. "They just need to let people know so they can get out there and move on and get on another job and get out to the job fairs and whatnot."

Douglas says he especially feels for Spirit's newer employers that could be subject to layoffs.

"They're young and having a good job means a lot to them," he says. "And (the) last couple years, things have been going really, really well. And then right before Christmas break, we find out Boeing is shutting down the main driver of our business. And then you come back to work and find out your're being laid off. I feel bad for them."

Eyewitness News reached out to Spirit to ask why some employees didn't receive a call concerning their statuses Wednesday.

The company has said hourly employees would begin exiting Wednesday through Friday and affected employees would be notified by their managers prior to their final shifts.

Meanwhile, Moody's a worldwide credit agency, recently released a report that shows concern for Sedgwick County, Wichita, Derby and Haysville following layoffs at Spirit.

The report stresses how dependent Sedgwick County is on Spirit. Sedgwick County, the report says, is the second most aviation-dependent county in the entire country.

What this means is, the start of layoffs at Spirit is only the beginning for economic challenges in Sedgwick County. For every 100 jobs at Spirit, another 106 local jobs re created and, according to Moody's, layoffs at Spirit will increase layoffs throughout the region.

So far, seven companies in the region have laid off employees in connection with Boeing's grounding of the 737 MAX jet and the suspended production at Spirit. The seven companies are just part of 30 to 40 in the local MAX supply chain.

The report goes on to say "an outmigration will likely occur as workers look for jobs elsewhere."

In other words, it says if layoffs continue, employees will leave the Wichita area. That puts the Wichita economy, and surrounding economies, in a tough position.

"That's tragic because we need every 2,800, another 500, another 1,000 people here to keep up with our future demand in aerospace," says Jeremy Hill with the Wichita State University Center for Economic Development and Business Research.

The report shows even those who don't work in aerospace will feel the impact of layoffs related to halted production of the 737 MAX. These layoffs will likely slow down spending , which will ultimately decrease money local government uses for smaller projects like road repair and larger projects like Wichita's new baseball stadium.

Sedgwick County says the report is accurate and fair, but remains confident in the long-term outlook for the local economy.

"Unfortunately, we are dealing with circumstances beyond our control. We are optimistic that our community can weather this," the county says.

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