Union Attacks Boeing's Other “Outsourcing”

Boeing took a bold move to outsource production of many of the components and subassemblies for its 787. Now the aerospace engineers are crying “foul.”

The two sides of outsourcing are often related, but separate. On the one hand there is the logistics outsourcing that supports a supply chain. On the other is the outsourcing of manufacturing, fabrication or assembly processes. With logistics service providers often handling some kitting or other value-add services along the supply chain, the two types of outsourcing can overlap. Boeing has outsourced many of the manufacturing steps for its 787 Dreamliner (See Supply Chain Dreamin' at Boeing, April 2007) and this has led to problems.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) has issued a statement saying it had warned that Boeing's plans to outsource fabrication and production of critical components was flawed. “Officials at SPEEA and other unions, including the International Aerospace Machinists (IAM), repeatedly warned the aerospace giant that it was a mistake to 'part out' highly complex aerospace products to inexperienced workers around the world,” says the union statement.

The union statement adds, “Boeing’s original plan for the 787 called for the first flight in August 2007. By now, large sections were expected to be arriving complete in Everett. The goal was to snap the large parts together in as little as three days. Instead, the program is 18 months behind schedule with no firm date for a first flight.”

Boeing faces a strike by the International Aerospace Machinists. The SPEEA begins contract negotiations with Boeing on October 28, 2008.

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