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Luxury aerospace supplier to shutter Tucson plant, lay off 400

High-end airplane seating manufacturer Rockwell Collins is ending operations in Tucson, with a full shutdown of the plant here in the works. More than 400 employees will be laid off.

The facility in Tucson will be closed, a company spokesman confirmed.

Rockwell Collins has not filed the legally required notices with the state or federal government to lay off that many workers, but a company spokesman said a filing will take place later in March. The company has been cutting jobs at other plants in the United States and shifting production to the Philippines.

Citing "reduced demand" for high-end aircraft seating, the company sent a notice to suppliers regarding what it called a "difficult decision to permanently close" its Tucson plant.

Rockwell Collins has built its "Super First Class" aircraft cabins here. The company, formerly B/E Aerospace was purchased by Rockwell Collin last spring. That company was in turn bought by United Technologies in the fall.

Rockwell Collins had about 870 employees at its Tucson plant, 1851 S. Pantano Rd., last year. Company spokesman Josh Baynes said 413 employees would be laid off due to the shutdown here. Workers were informed of the planned closure on Feb. 28, he said.

The company will "move the remaining portion of work" to another facility, but "we have not made the decision on where that location will be," the notice to suppliers said.

The move will begin in June, and be completed by the end of September, the notice to suppliers said. Rockwell is cutting costs while it's being taken over by United Technologies in a multi-billion-dollar deal announced last fall. The company has cut its local workforce by smaller increments over the past year; 32 positions were recently moved to North Carolina, for instance.

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Pima County has "rapid response" employment assistance staffers from the One-Stop program ready to help laid-off workers, Supervisor Sharon Bronson said.

"We haven't heard anything official from the company," the Democrat said. "Clearly these are high-wage jobs and we will be working with our economic development team to find other work for those affected."

"This is one of our strengths; we're an aerospace hub," Bronson said.

"Severance packages and outplacement services will be offered to affected employees, as well as opportunities apply for other job openings in the company where business is growing," Rockwell's Baynes said.

Rockwell Collins has been cutting workers at its factory in Winston-Salem, N.C., and moving jobs to a plant in the Philippines. About 130 jobs there were recently cut. About 32 jobs were cut in Tucson and moved to the North Carolina operation.

Rockwell was acquired by United Technologies in a $23 billion deal struck last September, although the deal has not yet closed.

UT's chairman said the deal was "not a job cuts story" at the time. "This is not about closing a lot of factories," said CEO Greg Hayes.

UT, a Dow company, also assumed $7 billion in Rockwell debt in the deal.

"Many of those synergies will come from supply chain improvements and the elimination of public company costs," Rockwell said of the deal last year. "While there will be some headcount reductions, primarily at the corporate level, the vast majority of employees will not be impacted as a result of the acquisition."

Rockwell had just taken over B/E Aeospace earlier in 2017, in a $6.4 billion deal.

Under federal law, companies with more than 100 workers who are planning mass layoffs must file notices with the government under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. WARN Act notices must give affected employees at least 90 day's notice of an impending layoff. No notice regarding the Tucson plant has been filed, but Baynes said one "will go out later this month."

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A Rockwell Collins 'Super First Class' aircraft cabins