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Sabreliner cuts tied to sequester, wind down of wars

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In this file photo, Butch Cook inspects a Dassault Falcon 50 corporate jet after painting Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 at Sabreliner Corporation in Perryville, Mo.
(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- Layoffs at Sabreliner Corp. are the result of a "perfect storm:" the federal sequester and the reduction of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, an official at the aircraft manufacturing and repair company said Monday.

Nearly 180 local union members have lost their positions since layoffs began Nov. 28, said David Bruckerhoff, business agent for the Teamster Local 600. In the latest announcement Friday, the losses were tied to the federal sequester, which went into effect March 1.

The sequester is a federal spending reduction plan enacted by Congress in August in an effort to avoid exceeding the debt ceiling. The across-the-board cuts hit military spending, as well as other programs, though Congress is exploring ways to lessen the load on defense.

The spending cuts are just the latest action by the federal government affecting Sabreliner.

Government and commercial planes serviced by Sabreliner are flying less often with the decrease in military activities in the Middle East, leading to fewer contracts to repair them, said Steve Sperry, Sabreliner's vice president of business development.

"Most of what we do is based on the number of hours an airplane is flown," Sperry said. If they are flown half as much, the time period between maintenance services is doubled, he said.

Sabreliner was aware the government accounts they service might be affected by the sequester, but it was difficult to plan for possible cuts, since lawmakers could have taken a number of possible actions that would have affected the industry in differing ways.

"It's tough to plan for what you don't know," Sperry said.

Sperry could not comment on whether future layoffs were pending, "out of deference and respect for the families involved."

As for the employees who already have lost their jobs, Bruckerhoff said the union is looking at each worker individually to evaluate their capabilities and possible placement opportunities. He said they are a highly skilled, multitalented group. Their positions at Sabreliner required expertise at a variety of tasks, including painting aircraft, upholstering seats, building cabinets and avionics.

There is no indication any of the positions will return should the sequester be resolved, Bruckerhoff said. Some workers already have found jobs. For the rest, he describes the outlook as bleak. Sabreliner offered work with good benefits and good pay, he said.

"It's hard to replace those types of jobs," Bruckerhoff said.

Carolyn Jones, director of the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center in St. Louis, helps local industry connect with government contracts. As with Sabreliner, any company that provides goods and services to the government might be affected by the sequester. There are many local companies listed on the General Services Administration schedule for purchases, meaning they have been approved as potential suppliers, she said. The construction industry is particularly taking a hit, Jones said, as federal projects have been modified or halted.

The local Workforce Investment Board and Missouri Division of Workforce Development are involved in helping workers find employment.

Sabreliner's 200,000 square-foot flagship facility is structured at the Perryville Municipal Airport. Layoffs also have taken place at its Ste. Genevieve, Mo., location.

Perry County has remained stable in recent years amid the throes of the economic downturn. In December 2012, the projected unemployment rate for Perry County was 4.1 percent. Median income from 2007 to 2011 was $44,383 and the percentage of people living below the poverty level during that same period was 12.3, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Cape Girardeau County, unemployment was estimated at 5.3 percent in December, median income was $45,795, and 14.7 percent of the population was living below the poverty level from 2007 to 2011. Nationwide, numbers were 7.6 percent unemployment, $52,762 median income and 14.3 percent living below the poverty level during those periods.

"We certainly hope that the layoffs are temporary and quickly resolved once the federal budget issues are finalized. Our hearts and prayers go out to the individuals and families who are impacted," Perryville Mayor Debbie Gahan said Monday.



Pertinent address:

1390 Highway H, Perryville, Mo.

1040 Rozier St., Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

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So sorry for the folks that were laid off. These are not what I'd call "non-essential" jobs.

Let your congressman know about how these across the board cuts are hurting your local area.

As the article says, there are no guarantees that these jobs will be coming back with all the uncertainty coming out of Washington.

-- Posted by 1patriot on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 8:01 AM

I find it hard to believe that the sequester,with its small amount of money involved is responsible for these kind of cuts. You took comments and opinions and stated them as facts. Your reporting plays on public sentiment and thats poor journalism.

-- Posted by buyer beware on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 9:03 AM

These jobs shouldn't come back, at least not unless Sabreliner can get enough commercial business to support them. We need LESS government spending not more of it.

It does sting when the cuts hit close to home but it is hypocritical to complain about the amount of Federal spending, our budget deficits or debts totals without recognizing that any budget cuts will mean jobs loses at Federal contractors and Federal agencies some of which will be in our local area. Many subcontracts are intentional designed to spread out to as many states and Congressional districts as possible to guarantee that they will "kill" X number of jobs back home no matter what budget item is being cut.

-- Posted by Nil on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 10:08 AM

Meanwhile, entitlement programs such as welfare continue to grow. The sequester is hitting essential programs such as military spending, yet the Scott County Airport continues to draw in millions of dollars to support a half dozen people to fly to St. Louis, only to have them catch yet another flight to a hub where they can depart to their final destination. Active servicemen can no longer have their college tuition reimbursed, yet single, unwed inner city mothers keep pumping out babies because afterall, they are entitled to that monthly paycheck.

-- Posted by Beaker on Tue, Mar 12, 2013, at 6:07 PM

I was deeply disappointed with the way Sabreliner handled all of the layoffs. I was one of those. Especially after being told (by management)less than 2 weeks before the first layoff that everthing was going to be fine and no one would be laid off. I was one of several people who gave up many years of seniority for the opportunity to be able to work closer to our families. We gave up alot and got absolutely nothing in return except lies. Sabreliner, along with the Local So Called Union (of which I belong), has been stuck in the stoneage for way to long. They didn't lose the contract due to the sequester, they lost it due to mechanics not being certified by the FAA. Of 30 years in aviation I have never seen how backwards maintenance had been conducted. It was done as safely as possible, with the limited experience and certifications that they had, but it still did not make it correct. The government contracts have rules and some how they were circumvented by someone of power whether intentional or not. As you can see by my post I do not hide behind a made up name. I pray everyone who has been effected by this layoff finds work elsewhere and is able to go on with their lives. I luckily have found employment outside of the aviation industry and due to the way WE were treated will probably never return. Ifthose of you that were laid off with me have not found a job yet, keep you heads up. You did nothing wrong, it is the Company and the Union who have failed you. May God Bless and keep your families safe in these trying times.

Toby Long

-- Posted by TobyLong on Wed, Mar 13, 2013, at 7:25 PM

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