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Spirit Employees Return To Full Work Week After Furlough

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Some employees at Spirit AeroSystems returned to a full work week Friday after 10 weeks of furlough.

The company announced in June it would reduce work weeks, and pay, as a way to cut costs as the Boeing 737 Max jet remains grounded.

"We were all in hopes that it would only last the 10 weeks, and it has," says B.J. Moore, regional director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. "It’s good that everybody’s back. We’ll be back to work and getting things going in the right direction.”

Moore says more than 70 percent of the union's roughly 2,700 employees at Spirit were impacted by the furlough.

"It's an unfortunate situation for most of the employees," Moore says. "There were some brighter sides to that. A lot of the people enjoyed being off in the summer on Friday. Now, of course, their bank account didn't agree with them."

Spirit says about 6,000 employees total were impacted by the furlough, which applied to salaried employees working on commercial airplane programs, Spirit's CEO and other company leadership.

The company makes about 70 percent of the Boeing 737 Max at its plant in south Wichita. The jet was grounded globally following two deadly crashes.

Though Spirit's plans to ramp up production this summer were put on hold, it has maintained its production schedule of 52 airplanes per month.

“Boeing drives a lot of what we do here at Spirit," Moore says, "and so hopefully if Boeing’s successful, then we’re more successful.”

Spirit has said it might have to consider further cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, if the 737 Max remains grounded. Boeing hopes to have the jet back in service before the end of the year.