Boeing

Ashley Gross / KPLU

  Boeing engineers in the Pacific Northwest are voting on whether to authorize a strike. The labor dispute is playing out against a dramatic backdrop.

The engineers are needed now more than ever to help fix the batteries on Boeing's flagship 787 Dreamliner.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

About 21,000 Boeing engineers and technicians will vote on whether to authorize a strike. The threat of a walkout comes at a bad time for Boeing as the company tries to fix its 787 Dreamliner.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney says the company plans to keep boosting 787 Dreamliner production even while the planes are grounded for a battery investigation.

The grounding of the 787 Dreamliner worldwide after two battery failures dominated Boeing’s 2012 earnings conference call. McNerney says the company still plans to produce 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of this year – twice its current rate.

Boeing is scrambling to figure out why batteries malfunctioned on its 787, prompting officials to ground the airplane this month. And at a time when Boeing most needs its skilled engineers, they're weighing a possible strike. Union leaders are considering the company's final contract offer.

The standoff between Boeing and about 23,000 engineers and technicians — mostly in the Seattle region — has been brewing for months. Dozens of them recently packed a union hall south of Seattle for training in how to run a picket line.

Associated Press

Boeing has begun work on the first of the 737s that will roll out of the Renton factory at a rate of 38 per month.

The company gave reporters and photographers a look at the line Tuesday as production increases from 35 planes a month.

Luke Lai

The grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has been a big blow to Japan – both its airlines and its aerospace industry. It’s a reflection of the strong ties between Boeing and Japan.

Japanese airlines have been very loyal to Boeing for decades. They have almost half of the 787 Dreamliners delivered so far. All Nippon Airways was the launch customer.

NTSB

With its fleet of 787 Dreamliners grounded indefinitely, Boeing is looking carefully at the lithium-ion batteries that power much of its innovative electronics. 

These hi-tech batteries are also used in many popular gadgets, from laptop computers to iPhones to electric cars. They make your devices lightweight, and they recharge quickly.

Boeing has raised its salary offer to its engineers and technicians, but the union is still complaining that it doesn’t adequately compensate its members.

Federal mediators have been brokering talks this week between the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The national economy will continue to climb out of the recession this year, and the Puget Sound region is forecast to do even better. That’s the word from an economic forecast conference in Seattle. 

SPEEA

When Boeing engineers and technicians walked off the job 13 years ago, they said it wasn’t just for more money. They wanted to improve the culture of the company and chart a new course for organized labor. Did they succeed?

At first blush, it looked like a resounding success. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, had won a contract with everything they had asked for. Executive Director Charlie Bofferding was triumphant in an interview with KING 5.

“We’re interacting now based on power and respect, and that’s where we want to be,” Bofferding said.

SPEEA

Boeing engineers and the company are supposed to meet with a federal mediator today – but union leaders say the two sides are still far apart. Looming over the negotiations is a memory that's 13 years old, but still fresh for many.

In early 2000, Boeing engineers and technicians did what nobody expected them to do – walk off the job and stay off.

© Edgar Turner

Boeing is confirming that a fire on one of its new 787s appears to have started in a battery, as scrutiny of the problem increases.

Also Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will send two more investigators to Boston to examine the Japan Airlines plane. The NTSB says the battery had "severe fire damage."

The fire happened on the ground Monday, with no passengers on board. But in-flight fires can be catastrophic, so the matter is getting close scrutiny by aviation authorities.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Boeing appears to have reclaimed the crown from Airbus as the world’s top commercial airplane maker. 

Much of that stems from strong execution on the  787 Dreamliner, a plane that until recently was the butt of jokes for being three years late. Yair Reiner is an analyst with Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

"For an industry that had grown really accustomed to having the 787 perpetually miss its targets, in 2012, it hit them," Reiner said.

AP

CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing Co. says it will buy back $1.5 billion to $2 billion of its shares next year, and it is boosting its dividend.

Boeing says the buybacks and higher dividend are possible because it is generating cash and has a positive growth outlook.

Boeing shareholders have been waiting to benefit from its new 787 plane.

The share repurchases will use up the rest of the money authorized for that purpose by Boeing's board in 2007. Boeing also raised its dividend 10 percent, to 48.5 cents per share.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Contract talks between Boeing and its engineers union are suspended till after the new year. But the union, SPEEA, is not standing still - they're training picket captains for a possible strike.

Pages