By Scott Hamilton and Byran Corliss
Dec. 23, 2019, © Leeham News: The Boeing 737 MAX production shut down will be measured in “weeks,” Boeing told one of its unions.
But “weeks” is a highly open-ended description.
One supplier estimated for LNA that the suspension will be at least 60-90 days.
An aerospace analyst sees the halt lasting 3-6 months at a minimum.
LNA’s analysis does not see production resuming before the Federal Aviation Administration notifies Boeing that it has a date certain for recertification. It has announced no timeline, although published reports already suggest this could be any time from mid-February to well into March.
But these are speculative dates.
Dec. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: The International Association of Machinists District 751, the touch-labor union at Boeing’s Seattle-area plants, launched a campaign for a strike fund this week.
Nevertheless, the union announced its campaign on its Facebook page and a micro-website here.
The union urges members to contribute $50 per paycheck to raise $6,000 by 2024.
By BRYAN CORLISS
Dec. 16, 2019, © Leeham News — Even as Boeing’s board of directors met this weekend to discuss a potential 737 MAX production reduction or freeze, the company has continued to hire workers it will need desperately once it finally gets the go-ahead to resume deliveries of the grounded jet.
This is extremely unusual for Boeing. Historically, hiring at the company all but dries up after Thanksgiving, largely because of a provision in its contract with its union touch-labor workers that makes December a lucrative month to be a Machinist–but an expensive month for Boeing.
Two factors could be driving the hiring: a need to quickly install mandated updates on nearly 800 grounded MAXes once the grounding is lifted, and a long-term global shortage of exactly the kinds of workers who have the necessary skills to do those jobs.
By Bryan Corliss
April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: As Boeing faces federal investigations, shareholder lawsuits, Congressional hearings – and possibly subpoenas – linked to the 737 MAX crashes, another issue flying low on the radar could further complicate the company’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and the elected officials who oversee it.
The issue revolves around the company’s plan to end quality control inspections for several thousand tasks performed by Boeing mechanics in the factory.
That plan – first reported by The Seattle Times in January – involves the use of more “smart tools” to perform work more precisely so that inspections will no longer be required for thousands of tasks. Instead of doing quality checks 100% of the time, as Boeing inspectors have been doing for generations, inspectors will sample 1-in-100 tasks, or maybe less, Boeing executives told the newspaper.
Now, the union for inspectors whose work is going away is asking its influential supporters in Congress to intervene with the FAA. It wants a chance to show the agency data it says proves that the new process will lead to more downstream rework on the assembly line, more injured workers and more production delays.
Both sides can come away feeling OK with how they did at the bargaining table. But the biggest winner in these talks actually was Boeing, which now doesn’t have to worry about a break in the flow of 737 landing gear for the next 40 months.
By Bryan Corliss
March 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing and the Machinists Union have come to terms on a deal that will raise wages for the company’s hourly work force and help the company compete for workers in a tight Puget Sound labor market.
The two sides have agreed on a pact that raises new-hire pay by $4 an hour in all job classifications, and raises pay for experienced workers in 32 specific job classifications by as much as $10 an hour.
“Not everybody is getting something here, and that’s hard,” said IAM 751 President Jon Holden in an interview with LNA. “But we were using whatever leverage we could to make some improvement.”
In a statement, Boeing said it is “committed to pay that is competitive within the local marketplace.”
By Bryan Corliss
February 19, 2019, © Leeham News: Machinists Union members who work at Cadence Aerospace-Giddens in Everett, WA, voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract with the company.
Ninety percent of those who voted Monday were in favor of the deal, according to the IAM’s District 751. (IAM 751 typically does not release vote totals in its contract elections, only the percentage voting in favor or against.)
IAM 751 President Jon Holden called the contract a “positive agreement.” The union’s negotiating committee called the deal “one members can be proud of and can continue to build upon into the future.”
By Bryan Corliss
Feb. 12, 2019, © Leeham News: While Boeing is enjoying “labor peace” in its Northwest facilities, a couple of aerospace industry suppliers are in the midst of contract negotiations with the largest union representing aerospace industry workers in the region.
At one of the new Collins Aerospace plants in Everett, those talks are contentious. Workers there staged a one-day walk-out on Jan. 17 after (according to union officials) Collins representatives refused to bargain with them.
The workers were back on the job the next day. However, the union representing them – International Association of Machinists District 751–filed a stack of Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board’s Seattle office, accusing the company of, among other things, bad-faith bargaining.
Since the January walk-out, the two sides continued talks with the help of a federal mediator.
“The workers who generate the profits should share in the prosperity we create,” said Joshua Whitcomb, a mechanic at the landing gear shop, in a statement provided by the union. “This is very skilled labor, and not just anyone can perform our work.”
For its part, a Collins spokesperson in Iowa gave LNA a statement saying the company is “committed to continue negotiating with the union in good faith, and hopes to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”
June 20, 2018, © Leeham News: The International Association of Machinists may be playing with fire.
Puget Sound’s IAM 751 may be burned in the process.
The Charleston Post and Courier reported that the IAM will file a labor grievance over Boeing’s refusal to recognize certification of a “micro-union” while the company appeals the legality of its creation.
“Boeing ignores us at their own peril,” the newspaper quotes a union official.
The union may be pursuing this at its own peril.
At stake is where Boeing will assemble the prospective New Midmarket Aircraft, or NMA (aka 797).
March 19, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing faces thousands of retirements in its engineering and touch-labor force ranks over the next five to 10 years, with a limited worker pool for replacements.
A national economy with a low unemployment rate of about 4.1% exacerbates the challenges of finding talent.
These numbers are important to Boeing’s current higher production rate ambitions.
They are even more important as Boeing looks to develop the New Midrange Airplane (NMA, aka 797).
LNC first discussed the looming shortage of engineers in connection with the potential creation of a new company with Embraer.