By Pat Maio/The Register
Published: Jan. 9, 2014 Updated: Jan. 10, 2014 11:20 a.m.

Wang Lu drives about 64 miles a day from his house in West Covina to his job at Boeing’s C-17 factory in Long Beach and back.

With the news that the 777X plane work won’t replace the C-17 line when it winds down next year, the 52-year-old Wu worries that he won’t have enough money to put his kids though college or afford his $1,800 monthly mortgage.

Lu watches over the seniority and classification of Boeing workers and also is a tank mechanic on the C-17, where he crawls inside wings to install pipes, pumps and tubes.

He began his work in 1986, when the old Douglas Aircraft Co. was in its heyday. There were more than 25,000 workers at the Long Beach complex then.

Even old Douglas chief James Worsham, “Mr. Salesman,” would come out onto the factory floor. Worsham was credited with leading a historic turnaround of the financially crippled company in the 1980s.

Worsham left in 1989 after hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65, and things changed. In recent years, the mood shifted.

Wu has a 24-year-old son seeking to become an eye doctor and a 20-year-old daughter studying marketing. He feels stuck since he’s 52 and can’t retire with full benefits and medical coverage until 55, with him likely to get laid off before then.

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