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Boeing market leading? It depends on the market

By John McLaren
SPEEA Negotiation Team

By all measures, Boeing is a market-leading company. The commercial, military and space products we design, produce and support lead their markets. Our shareholders appreciate Boeing's financial market leading performance. We have produced record profits, delivered our products at an ever-increasing pace, and created record demand for the aerospace industry.

Boeing's stated intent to have "market-leading compensation" implies:

        • There is one identifiable "market"
        • There is one correct method to identify where we are in that market (i.e. leading and by a calculable amount.)

Boeing's success is being shared through generous salary, bonuses, pensions, deferred compensation and perks for executive managers. Boeing's success is being shared with increasing dividends to shareholders.

Record profits, generating $6.6 billion in cash are being used to continue a $7 billion stock buyback program and to make voluntary contributions to the defined benefit pension plans. These contributions are being made even though the plans are already fully funded by Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) standards.

SPEEA believes a market-leading company should also share its success with the professional and technical workers whose expertise is essential to creating this success.

Positioning engineering and technical salaries at the 75th percentile of the market appropriately rewards the employees who created Boeing's current record-breaking success. Salaries at the 75th percentile also allow Boeing to attract and retain the top-tier talent required to sustain our market-leading performance while balancing the costs needed to keep our products competitive.

SPEEA has serious concerns with the process Boeing uses to evaluate "the market" for engineering and technical talent. The source data of "peer" companies is questionable. It includes no data for companies that do what the majority of SPEEA employees do; that is design, build and support a family of highly complex commercial airplanes. Salary data at "peer" companies can include data from companies that are failing financially, are outside aerospace or have no technical employees. Among our "peers" is GE, which is no longer primarily an aerospace company and received federal assistance through the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program.

As negotiations resume Jan. 9, our teams are focused on analyzing all the data, sorting the good from the inappropriate and negotiating for the salary raise pools that reward our contributions to making Boeing the market-leading aerospace company.