SPEEA warns Kan. workers; McNerney in S.C.; Qatar’s 787s

Members of the Society of Engineering Employees in Aerospace will wrap up voting today on the Boeing Co.’s contract offer. The union’s 22,765 members in the Puget Sound region are expected to reject the jet maker’s offer.

Although union members won’t be going out on strike just yet, the potential for a work stoppage later on prompted SPEEA officials to warn workers at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., the Wichita Eagle reported over the weekend. A strike at Boeing here in the Puget Sound region could cause a work slowdown at suppliers like Spirit, SPEEA officials warned. The 2008 Machinists strike, which lasted 57 days, forced Spirit to implement shorter workweeks and to furlough some employees.

While Boeing’s Puget Sound area SPEEA members are voting Monday, the company’s CEO Jim McNerney will be in Charleston, S.C. McNerney will be attending a business conference there organized by U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., reports the Associated Press. Boeing’s CEO also could be in South Carolina to attend the delivery of the first 787 assembled at the company’s North Charleston site. That delivery, to Air India, was expected to take place last week. Boeing’s North Charleston site is not unionized, as the state’s governor has often pointed out.

The 787 will loom large in Seattle today. The Dreamliner’s launch customer, All Nippon Airways, begins 787 commercial flights out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Boeing delivered ANA’s first 787 in September 2011. Although there are six airlines flying the 787, ANA is the first to introduce 787 service into Sea-Tac. ANA and its passengers has been pleased with the 787. The carrier recently placed a follow-on order for 11 787-9s.

One airline that is not flying the 787 yet is Qatar Airways, which expected its first Dreamliner in August. Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al Baker blasted Boeing over 787 delays in this Flightglobal story. Delays in delivering Qatar’s 787s are forcing the airline to push back route expansion plans. Al Baker says the carrier didn’t think Boeing would have “failed so badly” on 787 deliveries. This is hardly the first time Al Baker has admonished Boeing over the 787. Qatar’s CEO said in 2009 that if he were in charge of Boeing “heads would roll.”

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