Boeing honors Machinists for outstanding quality
PARIS – The Boeing Co. has honored a group of nearly 300 Machinists Union members at the company’s Everett site for their outstanding performance in improving the quality of the aircraft components they produce.
With the award came a trophy, which has been installed in a case in the middle of the shop, and a company-paid lunch for the workers.
The award was recognition for the marked improvement in the group’s already-high performance toward meeting quality assurance goals.
“We’ve always been very quality-conscious here,” said Larch Gilbert, who is a 777 wire handler. “This is the starting point, and you want it to go to your customer perfect.”
The Everett Wire Shop made big strides towards perfection during the first quarter of 2011. Boeing managers cited a 62-percent decline in the number of defects that got past Boeing’s internal quality controls and made it to the customer.
“Considering we have several million opportunities for escapes every month, we are very proud to have reduced what was already a very small number by more than half,” said Brent Bundy, the quality manager for the shop.
In addition, the shop recorded a 33-percent decline in defects, and a 30-percent drop in the monthly average cost of reworking, repairing or scrapping wire assemblies.
As the result of suggestions from Machinists, the shop is implementing 10 more quality initiatives, including one that is expected to cut defects related to electrical contacts by 75 percent, and another that will improve safety and ergonomics for workers.
All these show the benefit of employing skilled, experienced and motivated workers, said Chuck Craft, the business representative who represents members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 who work in the Everett wire shop.
“Boeing management implemented a new quality assurance program, and our members had the ability to take it and run with it, far surpassing anyone’s expectations,” Craft said.
“They cut costs, which makes the company happy, and they improved the quality of their products, which makes customers happy,” Craft added. “That’s what you get when you work with higher-caliber people, like our Machinists.”
Producing high-quality work takes skill, but more than anything, “it’s a matter of having the drive,” said John Stengrund, who builds 737 cockpit wire assemblies. “You’ve got to take pride in your work.
“It’s not easy to find people who will do that,” Stengrund continued. “I’ve worked at companies where you could tell people were just there for a paycheck.”
For generations, highly skilled and motivated workers have been the key to Boeing’s success in Washington state, said Tom Wroblewski, the president of District 751.
That kind of workforce would also build success for any other aerospace company that located in the state, he said.
“Whether we’re working on parts for Boeing, Bombardier or Airbus, our members take great pride in what they do, and they do it very well,” Wroblewski said. “They are a big reason why Washington state is home to the most-productive and lowest-risk aerospace cluster in the world.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across the states of Washington, Oregon and California. They are among the more than 35,000 Machinists Union members working for airlines and aerospace manufacturers in Washington state.
In 2010, District 751 workers ratified contracts with 22 employers without a single workday lost to strikes.
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