Letters to the Editor

Orion is proud to pay competitive aerospace wages | Letters

I would like to set the record straight in regard to statements made in the Oct. 31 letter to the editor by Ann Marie Clarke in which she states that Orion “pays minimum wage to most employees.”

The impression that manufacturing wages are not commensurate may have started as a result of an article in The Mirror on Dec. 5, 2012, which discussed Orion’s pending move to the City of Auburn. In the article, City of Federal Way Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty was quoted as saying, “professional jobs pay higher salaries than manufacturing jobs and result in higher purchasing power for those employees.”

In fact, Orion has very few minimum wage jobs. Among Orion’s 265 employees, most are skilled aerospace machinists, engineers, supply chain specialists, customer service professionals, human services professionals and managers — many of whom have advanced degrees and who make salaries commensurate with their peers in other sectors.

Orion is a supplier to Boeing and other Tier One OEMs, and we compete with them for the same employees. Because of this, we offer competitive wages in order to attract and retain qualified and highly skilled employees. The family wage jobs we provide are reflective of the wages seen throughout Washington’s aerospace industry and provide our employees the ability to buy homes, raise families and send kids to college.

Washington state is the largest aerospace supplier in the country and our aerospace industry provides some of the best wages in the state. Wages in aerospace-related companies comprise 12 percent of all the wages paid in the State of Washington. An aerospace engineer can make more than $100,000 per year. A journey level machinist can make more than $60,000 per year.

A recent study by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges reports that the median annual earnings of program graduates with two-year degrees working in the aerospace industry was $46,782 per year within seven to nine months of graduation. They report this is 41 percent higher than individuals exiting the same programs across all industries.

Orion is proud of the wages we pay the professionals that have made us a world-class company. While we will be moving our facility and our staff to Auburn, we will continue to serve Federal Way and the communities in South Puget Sound with our human services.

John Theisen, President/CEO, Orion Industries


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