Boeing’s South Carolina employees have achieved catchup-productivity targets set by management in February and are on the way to fixing the significant lag in production that earlier this year left the 787 fuselage plants mired in unfinished work, according to a Boeing internal memo cited by The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, S.C..
The production teams in North Charleston must now sustain the target productivity goals for 10 days ending May 12. If they do so, they’ll be rewarded with a one-time bonus of 8 percent of a year’s pay.
An engineer at the plant said that will provide mechanics a windfall of $3,000 to $4,000. Managers and engineers will qualify for a flat $2,500 bonus, he said.
This one-time bonus for catching up on work is in addition to Boeing’s annual incentive bonus, which paid 18 days’ extra pay, or a 6.9 percent bonus, to the South Carolina workforce in February.
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The engineer said the successful push to reach the targets was the result of hiring back more than 1,000 experienced contractors since late last year, as well as “dogged determination and a lot of killer hours” by the workforce.
Boeing “dangled a pretty nice carrot to help get things back on an even keel,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s sustainable. I wouldn’t foresee them offering us something similar if we fall behind again.”
Boeing last year let go hundreds of experienced contractors at the North Charleston site. In the fall, fabrication of the 787 fuselage sections began to fall far behind as Boeing increased the production rate from seven a month to 10, and the reduced workforce struggled to cope.
By early this year, the airplane sections built there, particularly the 787 midfuselages, were shipping from South Carolina seriously incomplete and slowing down work at the Everett final-assembly plant.
In February, the midfuselage build teams were just shy of 8,000 jobs behind schedule, or about 10 days’ work.
Management then set the targets to qualify for the bonus: The jobs behind schedule at the entire Boeing South Carolina site had to fall below 3,500. And no aircraft section was to ship out to final assembly with more than 150 jobs incomplete.
The deadline to win the full bonus was April 30 and the goals had to be sustained for at least 10 days from that date.
The Post and Courier newspaper obtained a copy of an internal message from Jack Jones, the vice president in charge of Boeing South Carolina, telling employees that they had met the targets two days ahead of schedule.
“Achieving this milestone is a huge accomplishment,” Jones said in the message, the Post and Courier reported last week.
Reaching the goals was complicated by two ice storms that shut down the roads around the plant, supplier-parts shortages and the discovery of wing cracks by Japanese supplier Mitsubishi that had to be repaired.
“Despite these unexpected challenges, in just three months you sacrificed, dug in to the point that we have seen nearly a 70 percent reduction in the number of (jobs behind schedule),” Jones said. “Every (Boeing South Carolina) teammate should take great pride in the strides made since January.”
“I know the money is significant, but even more significant is the realization of less overtime, more weekends off and a smoother, more-efficient production operation,” he added. “All of this is possible once we stabilize and maintain at these levels.”
Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org