Some at Boeing worry new work shifts will worsen traffic

EVERETT — The Boeing Co. is streamlining its Everett factory shifts starting April 10. The change will increase efficiency, the company told employees earlier this month.

However, several Boeing workers say it could cause more problems than it solves. It also will mean more congestion on nearby streets in the morning and mid-afternoon as thousands of Boeing workers come and go from work.

In a message to workers announcing the change, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President Kathy Moodie said that it will improve efficiency in the plant.

The streamlined schedules should help “teams to better predict workflow, inventory needs, break and meeting times, and the amount of people working on the production floor,” she said. “Most importantly, it allows us to optimize our production system to consistently meet our schedule and customer commitments.”

Several Boeing workers said it could have the opposite effect. Currently, there is some overlap between first and second shift crews, allowing workers to directly update each other about what work has been finished, what needs to be finished and other important information.

The new schedules eliminate that overlap.

Boeing did a trial run starting in late January on its 787 program in Everett. The Daily Herald reported on that change when it was announced in December.

The company is expanding the streamlined shift schedules to its 747, 767 and 777 programs, the Everett Modification Center and several support organizations, including some workers in Bothell and Mukilteo. The change affects workers in Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ manufacturing division.

The company is “applying lessons learned from the 787 implementation, while also ensuring there won’t be negative impacts to the rest of our Everett teammates,” Moodie said in the announcement to employees.

The company is still staggering start times in the morning somewhat. There will be three start times between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Right now, start times for first shift workers are spread across an hour. There is less need to spread out shift schedules for the smaller second shift or the skeleton crew working third shift.

One Boeing mechanic predicted Highway 526 is going to be a parking lot in the morning. Just getting out of the parking lot in the afternoon can take 15 minutes.

First shift will now get off between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., while second shift workers will clock on either at 2:48 p.m. or 3 p.m.

The changes should have “minimal impact” to congestion on streets and highways around Boeing’s Everett plant, the company told the city’s public works department.

Varying when people clock in and out helps spread the congestion, but it does not eliminate it, said Ryan Sass, city engineer for Everett.

The biggest effect comes between 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. “It is more of a plateau than a peak” in traffic, he said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454;; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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