Saturday, January 27, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 27, 2001

Boeing reportedly plans to close Renton plant

Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. — Boeing Co. is reportedly planning to close its 737 and 757 jetliner assembly lines at its factory in this south Seattle suburb and relocate them to its huge widebody assembly plant in Everett, 30 miles to the north.

The move could save Boeing, the world's largest maker of commercial jets, an estimated $1 billion a year, BusinessWeek reported in its Feb. 5 issue.

Boeing issued a statement Thursday saying no decisions had been made.

"We've got to be competitive to keep people employed. Looking at how we are using our facilities is one way to do that,'' the company said.

Boeing employs about 8,000 people at the plant on the south shore of Lake Washington. Workers will be given the option of transferring to the new production lines at Everett and that Boeing will rely on attrition to trim any unneeded jobs, BusinessWeek reported.

Boeing also plans to accelerate its effort to contract out more component work, eliminate a number of suppliers and sell off surplus real estate in the 27 states where Boeing has sites, the magazine said, citing an unnamed executive at Boeing.

The Machinists union, which represents Boeing production workers, will ask the company for more information Friday, said Mark Blondin, Machinists District 751 president-elect.

Boeing is facing stiff competition from European rival Airbus Industrie, along with demands from investors to aggressively cut costs.

BusinessWeek said Boeing executives plan to recommend to the board of directors in February that the Renton assembly lines be shut down over a period of up to seven years.

The Renton plant dates from World War II, and was originally used by Boeing to build bombers. The Everett plant dates from the 1960s, and is where Boeing assembles widebody 747s, 777s and 767s.

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