Machinists’ ideas improve Boeing process, profits

Machinists Union members working for the Boeing Co. are continuing to make improvements to the company’s jet manufacturing processes.

Most of the improvements are small, but the effect of all of them added together will bring huge benefits to Boeing, its individual employees and the communities where they live, said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

“If the best aerospace workers in the world get even better, then the chances of us losing out to some other site shrink rapidly,” he said. “That means we’ll have good union jobs in the aerospace industry for decades to come, jobs that we can retire from and jobs for our children to fill.”

Wroblewski’s comments to union members are included in this month’s AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

The current issue includes a front-page story on a team of Machinists Union workers in Renton that calls itself the Breakfast Club.

The group found a way to keep FOD – foreign object debris – from building up in the area where they build 737 wings by using a simple vinyl cover. The group estimates that it has saved one man-hour on each wing it assembles — which is significant, given that Machinists build 38 sets of 737 wings a month.

“It’s saving us 20 minutes here and 20 minute there and 20 minutes there,” said union Steward Pete Atkinson, who is a Breakfast Club team member. “It’s just really kind of simple, but effective.”

One simple step like this “isn’t by itself going to change the world,” said Wroblewski. “But when each team on each shift on each Boeing aircraft program comes up with its own simple solution to their own unique problems – the way the Breakfast Club did – then we’ll start to see some significant improvements.”

That will lead to increased payments to Machinists under the new incentive pay program at Boeing, Wroblewski said. And it will also make the Machinists more competitive in a global industry.

“That’s how America’s manufacturing industry will compete and win in the 21st century,” he said. “Not by being the cheapest, but by being the best.”

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic, you can read about:

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 32,000 working men and women at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In December, union members ratified a four-year contract extension with Boeing that ensured the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.

To contact a District 751 officer to learn how a union contract could help you, click here.


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