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Compensation and the 'competition'

By Rich Plunkett
SPEEA Director of Strategic Development

If you worked at Boeing in the 1990s, you may recall certain executives citing the importance of "being in the phonebook in 10 years" in reference to needed 'cost-cutting' exercises associated with bungled supply chains. The general economy was doing fine, but Boeing made some missteps after going to a 'sole-source supplier' method. Cuts were needed to save the company.

Today, the roles are somewhat reversed – with the national economy experiencing the 'great recession,' and Boeing is making record profits. Boeing is making so much profit, the news media is speculating about what the company will do with its surge of cash. Yet, during negotiations with SPEEA, Boeing continues to push the 'cost-cutting' mantra.

This time Boeing's justification isn't about remaining in the phonebook, and that's not because most of us no longer use phonebooks. Boeing says cuts are needed to remain 'competitive.' However, you will not hear details following the line "to remain competitive" and for good reason.

Boeing is finally catching Airbus. The Boeing backlog represents a bank account of profitability that will last well into the next decade. But, to access that bank account, Boeing needs its skilled and experienced engineering and technical workforce. The company needs our ability to design, deliver and service the products and services in demand by customers around the globe. Without us, planes are not delivered. Without deliveries, the bank account goes dry.

Stockholders are being rewarded with ever-increasing dividend payouts just for hanging on to their existing shares. Corporate officers and executives are seeing double digit increases to their already lucrative compensation. The Boeing pie is growing at an incredible rate because of the people, ALL the people, of Boeing.

So, who are we really competing with?