As U.S. military budget soars, Boeing workers face layoffs

Even with an extra $52 billion for the world's largest military in President Trump's new budget -- or the $60 billion Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is lobbying for -- workers at Boeing Corp.'s war helicopter factory and division headquarters in Ridley Park, Delaware County aren't sure they'll all still be on the job next year.

“We’re hoping we get some money for the V-22 (Osprey) and the Chinook, our products here. But right now we’re in a little bit of a downturn," said Mike Tolassi, president of United Aerospace Workers Local 1069, which represents around 1,370 of Boeing's 4,500 workers at the complex, the largest industrial plant in the Philadelphia area.

"This past year we’ve been experiencing layoffs. I believe we’re gonna have another in April," Tolassi added. "But we’re hopeful. The company keeps telling us better days are ahead. We want them to go out and get these contracts.” 

Trump's summary budget calls for more Apache helicopters, which Boeing makes at its plant in Mesa, Arizona -- McCain country.

The Defense Department's 2017 budget request, besides paying for previous orders, included $600 million to replace an  Osprey "lost in combat." An Osprey was destroyed and a Special Forces sergeant killed during a January raid in Yemen, where the U.S. has been attacking suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist groups.

“The 2018 outline issued this morning is an important step in the government’s effort to craft a budget," Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said of Trump's miltary request. He declined comment on the Ridley plant's prospects, noting that budget "details may change" in Congress.