Boeing’s Labor Issues

Global Business

In the first quarter of 2014, aerospace giant Boeing only delivered 18 of its marquee 787 Dreamliner jet, a model plagued by numerous delays and technical problems. Meanwhile, the union representing Boeing’s engineers is crying foul over a plan to move a thousand jobs from Washington State to California. CCTV’s Chris Casquejo takes a look at how Boeing’s battle with organized labor is affecting the company.

Boeing\'s Labor Issues

CCTV's Chris Casquejo takes a look at how Boeing's battle with organized labor is affecting the company.

By the end of 2015, aircraft manufacturer Boeing says it will move one-thousand engineers — who are on call when one of its airplanes experiences technical problems — from Washington state to California.

But union leaders say those workers are being laid off and invited to re-apply for the same positions, except they will no longer be unionized.

Last year, the same union was involved in a contentious contract battle at the worst time for Boeing, when battery problems grounded Dreamliners, worldwide, for nearly four months.

And labor unrest has affected the 787 before. Machinists walked out in 2008, which contributed to the three-and-a-half-year delay in delivering the first Dreamliner.

Production of Boeing’s flagship airliner is now ten per month. But just last month, Boeing discovered another problem: hairline cracks in the wings of about 40 yet-to-be delivered 787s.

More than 400 companies in nine countries supply parts for the 787. Unions blame Boeing’s worldwide manufacturing process for the Dreamliner’s many problems.

But in the competition for airliner supremacy, workforce morale may not matter. In the first quarter of this year, Boeing delivered 20 more aircraft than rival Airbus continues to maintain its leading position.