Pontifications: Why I’d fly the MAX; lessons learned and still to come

Nov. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: I’m okay with flying on board the Boeing 737 MAX.

Yes, it’s gone through the wringer in the 20 months since it was grounded.

Yes, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration screwed up royally.

And yes, there’s solid reason to distrust the company and the agency, wondering if they got it right this time.

Which is why for me the tipping point is the involvement of Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA are the reasons to trust getting back on the MAX.

LNA addresses the safety in our new podcast feature, 10 Minutes About. The inaugural podcast, 10 Minutes About the Boeing 737 MAX recertification may be heard here.

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Boeing, unions need reset: analysis

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By the Leeham News Team

Analysis

Introduction

Nov. 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing is at a defining moment, says John Holden, the president of IAM 751. This is the labor union that assembles Boeing’s airplanes in Washington State.

The Seattle Times wrote that “Boeing must realign for better days“.

Neither said anything that hasn’t been said before, some of them repeatedly.

There is a new twist to it this time.  Boeing is seriously bleeding money.  It is making changes for survival and paying a horrible price as it loses talent that takes years to develop.  There are many losers here:  Boeing, Washington State, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, Everett, Renton and all the communities in the Washington Aerospace heartland.  There are no winners.

But for all the points identified, few offer solutions. What should a realignment include?  What could it look like?

Over a series of articles, LNA will examine some possible solutions.

The first is Labor, starting with the IAM 751.

Summary
  • Long, tortured relationship.
  • Strong union state.
  • “Expensive labor.”
  • Is there a “value” premium?

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Retrospective-2, 10/29/09: 787 Line 2 aftermath

DownloadRetrospective-2, Oct. 1, 2020, (c) Leeham News.
This is the second in a series of Retrospective looks at the 2009 decision by Boeing to locate 787 Line 2 in Charleston (SC).

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Retrospective-1, 10/28/09: Boeing to Charleston for 787 FAL #2

DownloadOct. 1, 2Oct. 1, 2020, (c) Leeham News: 10 years, 11 months and 27 days ago, Boeing announced it selected its production plant in Charleston (SC) for the site of its second 787 assembly line.
The decision came after an intense battle with its touch labor union, IAM 751, over concessions demanded by Boeing and offers made by the union.
Boeing told Washington State there were no incentives that could be offered to persuade Boeing to locate Line 2 in Everett (WA). The issue, Boeing said, was entirely about the union. However, it was later learned South Carolina state and local governments provided Boeing with nearly $1bn in tax breaks and other incentives to locate Line 2 there. State and local Washington officials felt flimflammed by Boeing officials.
Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington asked Boeing if there was anything the state could do to persuade Boeing do keep Line 1 in Everett.
The company is meeting today to decide whether to consolidate the two lines into one to save money because of the COVID-19 crisis. When CEO David Calhoun announced a study during the 2Q2020 earnings call July 29, it was considered a foregone conclusion that Charleston would be selected for the site.
LNA provided extensive coverage in 2009 about the decision. We’re publishing several articles in a Retrospective look about the decision then to locate Line 2 in Charleston.

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Boeing techs ratify contract extension

By Bryan Corliss

April 29, 2020 © Leeham News — Unionized technical workers who initially rejected a proposed contract extension with Boeing have changed their minds.

Their union – the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) – on Tuesday announced that the techs had approved a proposed contract extension with a 74% yes vote.

The deal extends the techs’ contract with Boeing until October 2026, putting them in sync with unionized engineers at the company, who had approved a companion contract offer in March.

SPEEA represents some 4,700 techs at Boeing – mostly in Puget Sound, but also in California, Oregon and Utah – along with nearly 13,000 engineers.

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Boeing announces voluntary layoffs in Puget Sound

By Bryan Corliss

April 28, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing on Monday formally announced it would offer voluntary layoffs – essentially contract buyouts – to members of its Puget Sound workforce.

For most workers, the offer would give them one week’s pay for each year of service, up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Boeing would also continue paying health insurance benefits for most of the laid-off workers for three months. (The exception to this: Machinists Union members will get six months of extended health benefits under the terms of an agreement negotiated in 2016.)

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Engineers OK Boeing contract extension; techs say no

By Bryan Corliss

March 11, 2020 © Leeham News – New Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun earned a split decision in his first major labor relations test Monday, as unionized engineers with the company’s Commercial Airplanes division narrowly approved a contract extension. A second unit, for technical workers, rejected a similar proposal.

The news came as Boeing announced the first case of COVID-19 among its 70,000-member Puget Sound workforce: an unidentified employee at the company’s Everett plant.

The proposal for engineers belonging to SPEEA (the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) was approved with a 51.2% yes vote, the union reported shortly before midnight (Pacific Time). Technical workers, however, rejected a similar deal with 56.7% “no” vote.

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Boeing engineers voting on surprise contract extension

By Bryan Corliss
Feb. 25, 2020 © Leeham News — Unionized engineers and technical workers at Boeing begin voting this week on unexpected new contract proposals from the company that address two major areas of worker complaints LNA reported on last month: annual raises and paid family leave.

The proposals, which would extend the current contract by four years, came after SPEEA (the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) threatened to take Boeing to court over what it claimed were deliberate attempts by company management to hold down raises that engineers and tech were entitled to under the current contract.

Those threats led to talks between SPEEA’s executive board and Boeing managers, resulting in the proposed contract extensions. 

SPEEA’s seven-member executive board negotiated the extensions and is urging a “yes” vote. However, the union’s larger Bargaining Unit Councils (one each for both the engineers and techs, with a combined total of close to 100 representatives) did not go along with the endorsements.

There are two separate but related offers, one for engineers and one for technical workers. Voting is by mail. Ballots will be counted on March 9. About 18,000 Boeing workers are involved, most in Washington, but also in California, Oregon and Utah.

Summary

  • Union confronted Calhoun over pay on Day One
  • Proposal locks in annual wage increases
  • SPEEA gets family leave this year

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Calhoun faces first test on labor issues

By Bryan Corliss
Jan. 29, 2020 © Leeham News —
Two weeks into the job, and new Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is already facing his first labor-management showdown, with SPEEA, the union for engineers and technical workers at the company’s Puget Sound plants.

On Monday, the vice president of engineering functions for Boeing Commercial Airplanes sent a message to members of SPEEA at Boeing, saying that his team has agreed to meetings with SPEEA’s leadership to discuss “areas of contention between the company and the union.”

Chief among those is SPEEA’s charge that Boeing has been manipulating data used to help calculate annual pay adjustments for engineers and techs, while also allowing front-line managers to blow off  annual performance reviews required for engineers and technical workers to determine who would be released first in the event of a layoff.

The union, through a spokesman, declined on Monday to talk about the accusations it’s made in writing about the wage issues. BCA’s VP of engineering functions, Todd Zarfos, said in his note that the two sides have “agreed to refrain from any further accusations and rebuttals about the identified areas of dispute.”

Instead, Zarfos said, they will “work together on possible solutions.”

Summary

  • Blistering broadside on pay for engineers, techs.
  • SPEEA goes to Legislature to seek end to “Boeing exemption.”
  • IAM bargaining unit urges members to save for strike.
  • Will Calhoun change management’s approach to labor?
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Boeing tells union: MAX production halt “weeks;” others see months

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By Scott Hamilton and Byran Corliss

Introduction

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.

Boeing 737 MAXes stored at Boeing Field. Source: Seattle Times.

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. 

Summary
  • Boeing now says that once certification is achieved, delivering from the inventory is a priority over producing new airplanes.
  • This raises additional uncertainty over restarting production.
  • Spirit Aerosystems has some 90 fuselages in storage.
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