Machinists drive Boeing to production records

District 751 Machinists at Boeing built and delivered record numbers of 737s and 777s in 2009, helping the Company’s Commercial Airplanes group deliver its greatest-ever revenues.

The Boeing Co. would have turned a profit of roughly $3.8 billion in 2009, executives said, if it hadn’t been for delays and cost over-runs on the 787 and 747-8 programs – delays caused largely by Boeing’s unwise reliance on an outsourced global supply chain.

However, the fact that Boeing was still able to turn a profit of nearly $1.3 billion in the midst of the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression is a testament to the men and women of District 751, Union District President Tom Wroblewski said.

“There was a lot of talk last year about how Boeing couldn’t be successful in Puget Sound, and how our Members were somehow to blame for that,” Wroblewski said. “But one look at the financial statements shows what the truth is – our Members generate revenues and drive profits.”

Boeing workers in Renton built and delivered 372 737s in 2009, which was a record, the Company’s chief financial officer, James Bell, told Wall Street on Jan. 27.

Those planes have an average list price of around $69 million apiece – although with discounts, customers typically pay closer to $46 million. Even at the discounted price, the efforts of District 751 Members in Renton resulted in almost $17.3 billion in revenues.

Meanwhile, the 777s delivered from Everett have an average list price of around $249 million – or roughly $174 million after discounts. That makes the value of the 88 planes built and delivered by Machinists there something close to $15.3 billion.

Based on the timing of most airplane contracts, Boeing would have received about 60 percent of the payment for those planes when they were delivered last year – perhaps about $20 billion, in round figures.

Across Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes business, total revenues increased to just over $34 billion, Bell told stock analysts.

Looking ahead, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told Wall Street that the Company will go ahead and cut back production on the 777 in mid-year, as previously announced. But 737 production will remain at the current record-setting rates “into the foreseeable future,” he said. Boeing is also actively studying whether to offer new engines for the 737, and looking at further 777 upgrades as well.

Boeing faces steep challenges in 2010, namely getting the first 787s and 747-8s certified and delivered, McNerney said.

But while “the challenges ahead are significant, I believe we have the people and the resources we need to be successful,” the CEO said.

Wroblewski agreed – at least as far as IAM 751 Members are concerned.

“No one else has the skills and dedication Boeing needs to accomplish these goals,” he said. “We are the fundamental operating engine of the Boeing Co.”

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