Bad news for Northrop?

With Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha (D-Foot-in-Mouth) suddenly in danger of defeat in Tuesday’s election after calling his constituents racist and rednecks, Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/Washington) is in line to succeed Murtha as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

This would be bad news for Northrop Grumman and its effort to sell the Airbus-based KC-30 to the USAF instead of Boeing’s KC-767. Regular readers need no reminder of the dynamics here.

Update, 10:15 PM EST, November 4: Northrop can breath easier; NBC News just declared Murtha was reelected.

“I can see Russia from my house.”

Air Force Magazine has an interesting article about beefing up the USA’s air defense.

Good News, Bad News for Boeing

The good news is that the IAM strike is over and the union members are starting to return to work (all of them have to be back by November 10). The bad news is that two analysts take a negative view of the near-term future.

Bernstein Research has further downgraded its 787 delivery projections, according to ATW Online in this story.

Boeing held off predicting any potential impacts to the 787 line while the strike was underway, other than saying there is a day-for-day additional delay. Although this is the case, we believe the 787’s first flight will now be well into the first quarter. Boeing’s original timeline for a first flight was October 29; at the Farnborough Air Show, program chief Pat Shanahan predicted November. A 58-day delay takes the first flight to the end of December or end of January or later, depending on when in November Shanahan thought the first flight would be. If he was thinking the end of November, then the strike put the first flight at the end of January or February.

Ramping up the work schedule from the strike will likely further delay, suggesting perhaps even a March first flight. If any more technical issues surround the 787, this could slip the first flight to the second quarter.

ATW Online reports that Qantas expects an additional six month delay for its 787s. ANA now expects its first 787 delivery in 2010, says ATW.

Goldman Sachs returned Boeing to its “Conviction” Sell list, according to this report. Goldman remains concerned about economic conditions and the capital markets leading to deferrals that will depress Boeing’s delivery stream in the coming years.

China’s Big Three airlines report big losses and are seeking government money, according to this ATW Online report. JP Morgan cites ATW Online in reporting that China Eastern plans to defer airplanes, which will affect Airbus and Boeing.

News that China’s airlines are struggling and deferring airplanes is bad news. Airbus and Boeing each tell everyone who will listen that their backlogs are solid, in part because of the geographic diversity. China historically has been a rock-solid customer for both manufacturers, where deliveries were maintained through thick and thin. If China is hurting, the could well be the underpinning that belies the theories at Airbus and Boeing.

Update, 1:45 PM: American Technology Research doesn’t expect the first flight of the 787 until February or March. See this item from James Wallace at The Seattle Post-Intelliencer. This is in line with what we write for our Corporate Website update tomorrow. We also will report a 2Q09 first flight is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Back to the Tanker: Price Competition

A new strategy for the competition to award an Air Force contract for the aerial tanker might be a compromise for the next president, according to this article.

A sidebar to the home page has the following item, which does not have its own URL and may disappear after a few days. So with full credit to the USAF Aimpoint:

AMC: Securing Today’s Energy, and Fueling Tomorrow’s Mission

A 2006 study revealed 82 percent of the Air Force’s total energy consumption is aviation fuel.  Air Mobility Command, through its fleet of tankers and airlifters, used 27 percent of that total, or roughly $1.5 billion.  For over a year, AMC has undertaken an ambitious fuel efficiency program making use of the best airline industry programs/practices. Doing so not only ensures our mobility fleet operates more efficiently, but will secure today’s energy in order to fuel tomorrow’s missions.

Our Airmen aggressively identified and implemented numerous initiatives to reduce aviation fuel consumption and operate the fleet more efficiently.   Here are just a few:
-Removed standard ramp fuel loads using only the required fuel for the mission
-Reduced weight by eliminating excess equipment carried on our aircraft
-Enhanced flight planning with accurate computer programs and shorter, direct routes
-Streamlined ground operations through engine shutdown and taxi procedures while minimizing APU usageTransferred additional aircrew training, including practice emergency procedures, to more capable simulators
-Continuously improved data collection tools and metrics to capture improvements
-Standing up a fuel efficiency office to oversee all fuel efficiency initiatives and policy

Although these initiatives are helping to avoid an extra $120M annual fuel bill, we can’t rest on these accomplishments.  Other efficient initiatives can be identified, implemented and performed not just by our aircrews, but by Airmen at all levels — throughout the entire Air Force.  From commanders, aircraft maintainers, flight planners, to the aircrews who execute the missions, we all need to ensure we do our part to be able to “Secure Today’s Energy, and Fuel Tomorrow’s Missions!”

IAM Vote Results

6:25 PM PDT

We’re here at IAM HQ; the first votes have arrived and are being sorted “I Accept” or “I Reject” the contract offer. We’ll eyeball bestr we can and report throughout the evening.

6:35 PM PDT: VERY early eyeballing, it looks like 3:1 to Accept.

6:45 PM PDT: In a lull waiting for more ballots to arrive. Few members hanging around. Very quiet. Eyeballing looks like 3 or 4 to 1 to Accept. Will be offline until next round of ballots.

7:05 PM PDT: Oregon and Kansas ballots have been counted but results not announced. Green River precinct in Seattle have arrived and result pattern (eyeballing, of course) is consistent with previous posts. We’re going to call this election as an “Accept.” Actual results between 8-830 PM PDT.

7:35 PM PDT: The voting pattern to “Accept” holds up.

8:20 PM PDT: It’s official: the contract was Accepted with a vote of 74%.

Here is the IAM Press Release:

Machinists Approve New Boeing Contract by 74%; 57 Day Strike Ends

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced today that its members voted to ratify a new 4-year contract with the Boeing Company by 74 percent.

The new agreement covers 27,000 IAM members at Boeing facilities in Washington, Oregon, Kansas and California, and ends a strike that began on September 6, 2008.

Machinists will begin returning to work as early as November 2 (for third shift employees) and November 3 for first and second shift employees. Per the Settlement Agreement, members have until the beginning of their shift on Monday, November 10 to return to work.

“Our Union has delivered what few Americans have – economic certainty and quality benefits for the next four years. Each of you stood up and did your part to win this battle,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “Your solidarity brought Boeing back to the table and made this Company address your issues. After 57 days of striking, we have gained important and substantial improvements over the Company’s offer that was rejected on September 3. I am proud to be a member of the Machinists Union and want to thank our members for their solidarity and commitment.”

“This contract gives the workers at Boeing an opportunity to share in the extraordinary success this Company has achieved over the past several years,” said Aerospace Coordinator Mark Blondin. “It also recognizes the need to act with foresight to protect the next generation of aerospace jobs. These members helped make Boeing the company it is today, and they have every right to be a part of its future.”

Among the many job security gains, the Union reasserted its jurisdiction over the scope of work of bargaining unit represented jobs that was lost in the 2002 contract. The Union members’ share of medical costs will remain unchanged from 2002 through 2012. In addition to the many monetary gains achieved in the new contract, the takeaway language that was riddled throughout the Company’s 9/3/08 proposal was withdrawn – retiree medical is preserved, survivor benefits are returned, reinstatement of seniority lost due to layoff is returned, promotional rights restored and the list goes on.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, the Union negotiated insurance and benefits will be considered continuous for all returning employees and their dependents. The Company will return all insurance premiums that were paid during the strike and all valid insurance claims will be paid.

Boeing has not issued a statement at this hour.

Update, 10:15 PM PDT: Here is the Boeing statement.

Boeing releaseMachinists Vote To Ratify Contract Offer and Return To Work

SEATTLE, Nov. 1, 2008 – Striking Boeing [NYSE: BA] machinists in Washington, Oregon and Kansas voted to ratify a new four-year contract that includes excellent wages and an industry-leading pension. About 27,000 employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) will begin returning to work with the third shift Nov. 2, ending a 58-day walkout.

“We’re looking forward to having our team back together to resume the work of building airplanes for our customers,” said Scott Carson, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. “This new contract addresses the union’s job security issues while enabling Boeing to retain the flexibility needed to run the business. It rewards employees for their contribution to our success with industry-leading pay and benefits and allows us to remain competitive.”

The contract calls for general wage increases of 15 percent over four years, an immediate 16 percent pension increase and lump-sum payments of at least $8,000 over the life of the agreement.

The new contract is for four years, longer than Boeing has typically negotiated with the IAM, which adds to long-term stability for Boeing, its employees, customers, suppliers and communities.

ILFC gets $5.7bn in financing

Mega-lessor International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC) obtained a $5.7 billion commercial paper financing via the Federal Reserve Bank Commercial Paper Funding Facility.

This just goes to show what government ownership can do for you, after all.

ILFC, of course, is more than a little important to commercial aviation and to Airbus and Boeing in particular. ILFC has ordered more airliners from the Big Two manufacturers than any other customer–747 from Boeing (7-Series airplanes only) and 609 from Airbus. It is Boeing’s largest customer for the 787, with 74 on order.

ILFC is a subsidiary of insurance giant AIG, which narrowly missed filing for bankruptcy when the US government initially committed to loan $85 billion (with another $37 billion coming later). A Chapter 11 filing by AIG would almost certainly have meant a bankruptcy filing for ILFC, even though its financial condition was never in doubt; subsidiaries are routinely put into Chapter 11 if the parent files in order to protect assets from liens and seizures by creditors.

As a result of AIG’s troubles, the commercial paper market dried up for AIG and ILFC. ILFC had to draw down $6.7 billion from its credit lines to repay CP coming due; at the time, ILFC said this would provide enough liquidity “into” the first quarter of 2009, an alarming statement that suggested liquidity problems might arise by then.

With AIG’s troubles, ILFC’s cost of funds had been rising throughout 2008. Its medium term note interest rate in January was under 3.5%; by September, just before the markets and AIG collapsed, ILFC’s interest rate had risen to nearly 8.5%.

The interest rate obtained for the $5.7 billion CP issued by the Federal Reserve to its new government majority-owned partner: 2.78%.

Airbus and Boeing can breath easier: ILFC’s orders are safe.

The financing was revealed in an SEC 8K filed today.

IAM Vote Saturday

The IAM vote on the Boeing contract offer is Nov. 1, with results expected by around 8 PM PDT. We’ll be on scene and anticipate updating throughout the vote count from about 6:30.

We think there is a chance the contract could be rejected, based on our advance discussions and reading. We think this would be a mistake.

Vote ‘Yes’ on IAM contract; SPEEA talks begin

The IAM union at Boeing votes Saturday (Nov. 1) on the revised contract offer presented by Boeing. It’s time to vote ‘yes,’ and get the union members back to work, production lines going again and Boeing customers their airplanes.

This is a compromise agreement, and like any compromise, not everyone is happy about it. The 751RanknFile blog opposes ratification. There are some valid points on the blog, and an unscientific vote has 53% of the respondents opposing the contract. But the IAM negotiators did get standstills on health care and retirement benefits, two important issues to the union. There were minor improvements on pension payments compared with Boeing’s Best and Final Offer–improvements so minor that we wonder why Boeing didn’t offer this earlier, or why the IAM negotiators thought these were victories, but they are what they are.

The IAM gained job security for the life of the contract for nearly 4,000 jobs, another important issue to the union, and some restrictions on vendor delivery of parts to the factories.

Boeing maintained the right to outsource on the five issues most important to it, while granting the IAM certain rights before work is outsourced from Puget Sound (the Seattle area) to any other Boeing facility. This might be important when Boeing opens a second 787 line. Boeing really has to do this in order to have any hope of accelerating delivery delays of up to three years for the new airliner and to open up delivery slots for new orders. The IAM wants this second line in Everett, the assembly site for the 787. If Boeing wants a second line under the Boeing assembly name during the four years of the life of the contract, it seems that the IAM gets to have a say and/or bid on this work before it goes somewhere else.

Boeing gets a four year contract instead of three years, but does not get the defined contribution pension plan it wants in place of a defined benefit plan.

This is a superficial summary; the full contract proposal should be posted on the Boeing and IAM websites Thursday and we’ll link them when they appear.

Although both sides didn’t get everything they want, it’s time to ratify the contract and get back to work.

We hope the IAM membership agrees.

Meanwhile, over at SPEEA

“Table” negotiations began today between Boeing and SPEEA began. Boeing has several messages dated today (October 29) on its Boeing-SPEEA labor website. SPEEA’s labor website is here.

Update, October 30: Here is the IAM’s 8 page description and recommendation of the new contract offer.

Assessing the settlement

Update, October 30:

Seattle post-Intelligencer: Bill Virgin, an astute business columnist, opines on who won and who lost in the strike settlement.

Update, 5:00 PM: Here is a 17 minute podcast about the settlement with Richard Aboulafia, Scott Hamilton and Addison Schonland.

Update, 1:00 PM: The IAM set the vote to ratify the new contract offer for Saturday, Nov. 1. Voting will be until 6 PM PDT, with results announced later that evening.

Original Post:

Now that the dust has settled a bit and the details of the settlement between the IAM and Boeing are emerging, it’s time to assess the outcome. Inevitably, the question is asked, Who won?

On balance, it looks like the IAM did, but Boeing came away with important victories as well.

From Boeing’s perspective, spokesmen as well as the official Boeing statement hammered home the retention of outsourcing flexibility, the key stumbling block in pre- and post-strike negotiations. The only change in the contract over this issue, Boeing told us, is that the IAM gets consulted and a chance to bid on any work proposed to be shifted from the Puget Sound (Seattle area) to any other Boeing facility. None of the five strategic reasons for outsourcing was eliminated or altered. On balance, we think Boeing prevailed on this issue.

Another point of contention was Boeing’s plan to revise health care benefits for workers and institute an employee contribution plan whereby IAM members would have to pay some share of the premium costs and other costs. The IAM called this a take-away. The parties agreed to keep the present coverage in place, with no employee contribution. It’s hard to call who “won” this one; the employees don’t have to co-pay, but the coverage isn’t quite as good (according to Boeing), and we don’t know whether Boeing is saving any money or not for less coverage but no employee cost-sharing.

A four year contract was crafted in place of the standard three year deal. Both sides “win” on this one; Boeing gets longer labor stability and the union gets an additional 4% raise in the fourth year, for a total of 15% over the life of the contract. Boeing originally offered 11% over three years and the union wanted 13%. Though we dislike the over-used term, “win-win,” this one fits the description.

Boeing slightly sweetened the pension retirement payments, for a “win” for the union.

The question is when does production get back up to pre-strike levels. We addressed this in our post on the tentative settlement, citing Boeing CFO James Bell’s earnings call statement that it could take as long as two months. A Boeing spokesman we spoke with thought Bell said there would be a day-for-day delay (actually that was Boeing CEO Jim McNerney talking about the 787 development and first flight delay). We returned to the transcript of the earnings call and reproduce the relevant conversation below:

JB Groh – D.A. Davidson

But, well let’s say theoretically if it ended after 60 days, can you get up to that rate in two months’ time or –?

James Bell

I don’t know. I really don’t know and I don’t want to speculate but I think that two months is a long period of time, so I would suspect that we could get close to it, if not there, in the two-months period. Hopefully, we can do it in a lot less time.

Boeing, its employees, the customers and the suppliers can breath a sigh of relief…for the moment. With SPEEA negotiations starting tomorrow, we could be in for this all over again. The SPEEA contract expires December 1. If no agreement is reached, look for a strike for; if successful, look for a return to the bargaining table with SPEEA’s hand strengthened, armed then with a walkout planned for January or February.

JP Morgan had this to say: The end of the Boeing strike should provide a short-term boost to the commercial aerospace stocks. We also find the stocks attractive on a long-term basis. However, the plethora of bad news likely to come on the cycle, the aftermarket, margins, and further 787 delays make us more cautious on the intermediate outlook.

Details of IAM-Boeing settlement

October 28:

STATEMENT FROM DBR TOM WROBLEWSKI:

This synopsis reflects the highlights of the issues that you identified: job security, wages, pension and health care. This is just a summary of some highlights, we will be providing additional information.

“Our Union has delivered what few Americans have – economic certainty and quality benefits over the next four years.

We have secured health care benefits with no additional cost shifting. The amount members will pay in deductibles and co-pays by the end of this contract, will have remained constant since 2002.

Preserving a defined benefit pension plan for all members is becoming rare; improving the defined benefit plan is a positive move.

As the financial markets have crumbled, the Union delivered 15% guaranteed pay increases for every member over the life of the agreement. In addition, there are significant lump sum payments in the first three years.

The fight for job security is something we battle every contract, every opportunity and every day. In this round, we won the battle and made some significant gains. In the fight for job security, we won. We will fight again in every contract going forward, as long as companies like Boeing see an advantage in bolstering their bottom line by sacrificing quality for the cheapest labor. At 30,000 feet airline customers want quality.”

JOB SECURITY

Letter of Understanding #2 – Updated Letter of Understanding to protect nearly 2,200 facilities/maintenance employees currently on the payroll for life of the Agreement.

Revisions to Article 21.7 – Expanded the scope of our subcontracting review. Secured the ability to compete for work that moves from one Boeing facility to another Boeing facility.

Improved Letter of Understanding #37 with the following protections.

• Forklift Drivers, MPRF’s, Factory Consumables Handlers, Environmental Control Workers and Shipping/Distribution will not be laid off or removed from their job classification and grade as a result of Materials Delivery and Inventory Process. This revision expanded protection to 2,920 jobs for the life of the Agreement.

• Except for 787 final assembly, vendors are limited to delivering products to designated areas only. From there, bargaining unit employees will track use, disbursement, acquisition, and/or inventory of parts, materials, tools, kits and other goods or products.

• Jointly work with the Company to improve material delivery process and ensure our members grow with the new technology and innovations.

• Parties will explore options for retraining or reassigning bargaining unit employees to equal level jobs when employees are impacted by process and technology changes.

COMPENSATION

General Wage Increases

1st year – 5%

2nd year – 3%

3rd year – 3%

4th year – 4%

Lump Sum Payments

1st year – 10% (of previous year’s earnings) or $5,000, whichever is greater

2nd year – $1,500

3rd year – $1,500

In addition, the second and third year lump sum can be diverted into VIP to bolster members’ pension savings.

Rate Range Minimums – All rate range minimums increased by $2.28

Progression – Employees in progression on 9/3/08 will receive supplemental wage increase sufficient to bring them to the new rate range minimum or $1 per hour, whichever is greater.

PENSION

Effective 1/1/09 – $81 per year of service

Effective 1/1/12 – $83 per year of service

HEALTH CARE

Boeing retreated from their takeaways and cost shifting in medical and benefits and reverted to the 2005 contract levels. This means the medical cost structure and benefits remain the same through 2012.

RETIREE MEDICAL

Went back to the 2005 language – eliminating language that would have been detrimental to existing retirees currently on retiree medical.

DURATION

Four years, expiring September 8, 2012