The Boeing Co.’s chief executive is hopeful about contract talks with the company’s Machinists union, despite a recent labor complaint.
“We’re trying to hit the restart button and see if we can get there,” said Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chief executive, during a company investors conference Tues
Boeing faces a looming complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The labor board’s general counsel alleges that Boeing illegally retaliated against the Machinists for strikes when the company selected South Carolina for its second 787 production line. A hearing has been scheduled for June 14 in Seattle.
In the last contract talks in 2008, Boeing’s Machinists went out on strike for 58 days when the union and company failed to reach a contract. The following year, after another set of failed talks, Boeing picked South Carolina over Washington state for its second 787 line. Company officials noted the need to have an alternate 787 production site in case of future strikes in the Puget Sound region.
Boeing has figured out how to work with many of its other unions but is still struggling with the local Machinists, McNerney said.
However, early communication between the two is giving McNerney reason to hope they’ll reach a fair agreement.
“We are not going to try to squeeze the union to death, I hope they don’t try to do the same to us,” he said.
As for the company’s engineers, Boeing is trying to give more weight to their comments and advice.
“We have completely changed the voice and scope of our engineering function in our company. … We think it got too diluted, particularly out here,” McNerney said.