By Bryan Corliss
July 10, 2023, © Leeham News – In case anyone had slept through all the earlier alarms going off, the whistles and airhorns that sounded during the mercifully short-lived Machinists Union strike at Spirit AeroSystems should have been a wake-up call:
This ain’t the 2010s aerospace labor market anymore.
In the labor market of 2023, hourly workers don’t want to come in on weekends. They want raises, and they’re not interested in getting paid in stock. And don’t you dare think of cutting off payments for the prescription drugs their kids need to take to stay healthy.
All this is going to create a challenge for the aerospace industry. For the past two decades, executives have focused on growing profit margins by holding down marginal costs – especially labor costs.
A decade ago, aerospace companies were able to win labor concessions by threatening to take work away.
Today, it’s the workers who seem to have leverage, and OEMs are going to have to figure out how to keep them happy and productive, or explain to the Kirbys, O’Learys and Al-Baker’s of the airline industry why their planes aren’t getting out of the factories on time.