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Boeing’s $9/hour engineers ● Janus Schmanus ● Labor militancy rising

Monday, July 1, 2019




► From the Dallas Morning News — Boeing increasingly relied on outsourced $9-an-hour engineers to test software — It remains the mystery at the heart of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max crisis: how a company renowned for meticulous design made seemingly basic software mistakes leading to a pair of deadly crashes. Longtime Boeing engineers say the effort was complicated by a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors. The Max software — plagued by issues that could keep the planes grounded months longer after U.S. regulators this week revealed a new flaw — was developed at a time Boeing was laying off experienced engineers and pressing suppliers to cut costs. Increasingly, the iconic American planemaker and its subcontractors have relied on temporary workers making as little as $9 an hour to develop and test software, often from countries lacking a deep background in aerospace — notably India.

JAL 787-9 on final assembly line at Boeing South Carolina. (via Flickr)

► In the Seattle Times — DOJ probe expands beyond Boeing 737 MAX, includes 787 Dreamliner — Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from Boeing relating to the production of the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina, where there have been allegations of shoddy work, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. The subpoena was issued by the Department of Justice, the sources said. DOJ is also conducting a criminal investigation into the certification and design of the 737 MAX after two deadly crashes of that jetliner. The 787 subpoena significantly widens the scope of the DOJ’s scrutiny of safety issues at Boeing.




► From Crosscut — Why Inslee’s wrong to withdraw support for Kalama’s new methanol plant (by Kevin Tempest) — Despite his commendable efforts on climate, the governor has unfortunately fallen into the common trap of assuming two very different projects have the same cost-benefit ratio… The Kalama facility provides an opportunity for Washington state to export significant GHG savings in an industrial sector that the governor’s Evergreen Economy Plan identifies as an enormous decarbonization challenge.

ALSO at The Stand — With flip-flop, Gov. Inslee chooses climate optics over balance (by WSLC President Larry Brown)

► In the (Everett) Herald — Decision time: Vacant state Senate seat to be filled Monday — The Snohomish and King county councils will meet together at 10 a.m. Monday to fill a vacancy in the 1st Legislative District. Rep. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell) is the preferred choice of Democratic precinct officers to replace Guy Palumbo who resigned in May.




► In the (Everett) Herald — Northshore teachers reach deal on new contract with district — Leaders of the Northshore School District and its teacher’s union said Friday they had reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract that would take effect with the 2019-20 school year.

► In today’s Seattle Times — High-school apprenticeship programs give kids a chance to earn money, credit, work experience — his fall, about 120 Washington high-school juniors and seniors will earn a paycheck, work experience, and high school and college credit  — all at the same time. They’re becoming apprentices through Career Connect Washington, a state program that is expanding the number of youth apprentices with $25 million in money from the Legislature over the next two years. The aim of the program is to get more young people started on their careers by combining school and work experience.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Living-wage jobs in Whatcom County are going unfilled. ‘We need young people…’ — Whatcom County industries that offer living-wage jobs in the skilled trades are finding it hard to hire workers, but several public and private-sector programs are hoping to change that.




► From AFGE — AFGE applauds House for approving 3.1% pay raise, blocking OPM-GSA merger and USDA relocations — AFGE President David Cox, Sr.: “This long-overdue increase would help federal employees recover from years of pay freezes and incremental adjustments that have failed to keep pace with inflation, and it would help agencies that are struggling to recruit and retain employees due to noncompetitive salaries that lag private-sector standards… Thank you to all the members of Congress who voted for this bill. We look forward to working with the Senate to get these provisions passed into law.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Washington’s House delegation voted on party lines, with all Democrats voting “yes” and all Republicans voting “no.”

► In the Washington Post — These USDA employees face a stark choice: Move to Kansas City or be fired — The Agriculture Department is offering employees a rare choice: accept a forced transfer to a post 1,000 miles away or be fired.

► From HuffPost — The Trump administration is literally pushing workers around (by Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson) — By telling civil servants they need to move, the Trump administration can coerce them into quitting.

► From The Hill — Internal cracks emerge in GOP strategy to avoid shutdown — Congress has until the end of September to prevent the second government closure of the year, but Republicans are struggling to overcome the first roadblock — agreeing to top-line defense and nondefense figures or deciding what comes next if they can’t.

► From HuffPost — Ocasio-Cortez tells job-shaming Republicans to ‘take their classism to the trash’ — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)  is calling out Republicans for “classism” for attacking her past work as a bartender.

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump asks for military tanks on the Mall as part of grandiose July Fourth event — National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith faces plenty of looming priorities this summer, from an $11 billion backlog in maintenance needs to natural disasters like the recent wildfire damage to Big Bend Park. But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith’s attention: how to satisfy Trump’s request to station tanks or other armored military vehicles on the Mall for his planned Fourth of July address to the nation.

► In today’s Washington Post — A wealth tax isn’t the best way to tax the rich (editorial) — A better approach would be to repeal those provisions of the 2017 tax law that restored favored treatment to large estates; to reduce the favorable treatment of capital gains in general; and to eliminate the huge break for profits on the sale of stock by people who inherit it from rich benefactors. These measures are all clearly constitutional, all readily administrable by the existing Internal Revenue Service apparatus — and all well-calculated to raise substantial amounts from the top 1 percent, or less, of the income scale. A wealth tax is certainly a bold and spectacular proposal; what the country needs most, however, are effective ones.




► In the Chicago Sun-Times — One year later, Janus decision still hasn’t hurt unions (editorial) — A year after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that threatened to cripple public sector unions, they seem to be holding their own. Government employees, it turns out, see value in belonging to unions. Membership in Illinois government unions actually has increased a year after the June 27, 2018, ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME.

ALSO at The Stand — A year after Janus, Washington state’s unions are stronger — Right-wing efforts to weaken labor and hinder progressive politics have failed miserably.

► From the LA Daily News — Grocery union to make announcement on possible strike Monday — UFCW leaders plan to announce Monday whether Southern California grocery workers will go on strike against Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions. Raising the threat of the first Southland grocery strike in nearly 16 years, the workers on Wednesday overwhelmingly authorized their union’s plan to call for a work stoppage unless a contract agreement can be reached.

► From Reuters — Philadelphia refinery workers plan for uncertain future after jobs go up in smoke — At Erin Pub, a classic Irish neighborhood bar in Norwood, Pennsylvania, dozens of Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc’s unionized employees crammed around the bar on Wednesday night, toasting to their friendships after learning that day of plans to close the refinery permanently after a devastating fire less than a week earlier.

► From CBS News — Toys R Us’ bankruptcy lawyers get $56 million while laid-off workers get $2 million — A year after Toys R Us closed, tens of thousands of laid-off workers are getting a portion of the severance promised and then rescinded as the retailer unraveled. A bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved the settlement to a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 33,000 former Toys R Us workers, a figure that means each will receive about $60.




► From Business Insider — America’s labor movement is finally waking up after a 30-year slumber — The recent uptick in strikes is not just your imagination, and it recalls an earlier era when unions played a greater role in the American labor market. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed more than 485,000 workers were impacted by large strikes that started during the year, the highest number since 1986. The return to labor disruptions after a long post-Reagan slumber comes as workers are becoming scarcer. Tight labor markets may help return some balance to the economy, raising income share for workers after decades of declines and very little bounce during the current economic expansion… Given the longstanding frustration with slow wage growth and a society that feels imbalanced, recent victories at the bargaining table for journalists and teachers, facilitated by unions, seem likely to get copied in other workplaces.


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