Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.
February 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Hangfire at SPEEA
It’s said that no outsider can look at a marriage and really know what’s going on. The same is true of union negotiations. But an outsider’s appraisal of Tuesday’s vote by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) can only be that the union is deeply divided about Boeing’s contract offer and perhaps the overall tone of its relationship with the company for the future.
As my Times colleague Sanjay Bhatt reported, engineers accepted the company proposal, while technical employees rejected it and approved a strike. Given the split, a strike is unlikely. As one reader commented, “Understanding the differences between Techs and Profs, you still have a vast majority of the union that are unable to strike now. Assuming that even half of them walk out, according to the 52 percent vote to reject the contract, this leaves you with a measly (maybe, if you’re lucky) 15 percent of the union that are outside picketing while everyone else is crossing the line. It still makes no sense.” And count on Boeing to try to leverage the division among the union ranks.
It would be smarter for Boeing to be conciliatory and present a better offer. This is anathema to the Jack Welch-style management ethos in Chicago, but it needs to happen. The Dreamliner is sitting on the ground, taking up parking space at Everett, and there’s still no clear answer about the electrical problems that have set this much-troubled program back. The finding of miswiring by Japanese investigators is a promising development, but it likely doesn’t solve the overall challenge.
Meanwhile, every day the 787 sits grounded, Boeing’s future grows more cloudy — and contrary to the Chicago thinking, defense spending won’t save the day. A host of bad management decisions, which culminated in the events that led to the grounding, is giving Airbus an opportunity to catch up. No nerds, no birds. Now, solve the problem.
And Don’t Miss: Apple after Steve Jobs — does the company need a genius? || The New Yorker
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Hackers from China
Let’s have our own nerds fight back
And erase our debt