Amid 787 investigation, Boeing to pay big bonuses
Boeing’s prize jet may still be grounded, but for the second straight year, the company’s record revenues mean fat bonus checks for its employees, especially those on the payroll in North Charleston.
As Boeing and government investigators continue to investigate what’s wrong with the 787 Dreamliner’s lithium ion batteries, the aerospace giant’s South Carolina employees can look forward to bonuses equivalent to almost 18 days of their pay at the end of the month.
That’s about three days more in pay than they got last year, which was more than the year before. And it’s more than the generally better-paid union workers at other Boeing Commercial Airplanes factories will receive in bonuses this year.
Candy Eslinger, spokeswoman for the local 787 plant, confirmed that the site’s incentive plan “will pay all eligible, direct-hire Boeing South Carolina teammates 17.95 days of pay.”
“So basically our employees would take their gross pay, which includes their overtime, and get 6.9 percent of that,” she said. That percentage, she said, is based on Boeing’s 260-manufacturing-day year.
The annual bonuses, which were first reported by The Seattle Times, were announced along with the company’s 2012 financial results last week and will be paid Feb. 28. Boeing brought in $81.7 billion in 2012, including $49.1 billion from its commercial airplanes unit.
A year ago Boeing South Carolina workers received 15 days’ pay, based on the company’s then-record revenues in 2011. They received 14.25 days’ pay in 2011, Eslinger said.
This is the first year Boeing South Carolina employees’ bonuses have been based on the company’s “Pay for Performance” employee incentive plan, according to Eslinger.
In addition to the company’s overall financial performance, that program factors in how well the North Charleston complex performed in five categories — safety, quality, morale, delivery and cost.
Eslinger said “the vast majority” of Boeing South Carolina employees, which includes the 150 people who work at the 787 interiors factory near Ladson, will receive the pro-rated and taxed bonus.
“It says a lot to the dedication of our team and the results that they brought to the table,” Eslinger said.
Boeing contractors, who make up the rest of the more than 6,000 people Eslinger said work at Boeing South Carolina, are not eligible.
Other salaried Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees will receive 14.75 days’ extra pay under the company’s employee incentive plan, according to Eslinger and the spokesman for Boeing’s white-collar union in the Seattle area.
Bill Dugovich, the spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, said SPEEA members who work for BCA will receive that bonus, while members who work in other units of Boeing will receive 16 days’ pay.
In addition to solving the mystery problems with the 787’s and the upcoming bonuses, SPEEA members have another major matter on their minds: whether to accept Boeing’s final contract proposal or go on strike. Ballots went out this week and will be counted on Feb. 19.
Boeing workers who are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are scheduled to get a bonus worth 3.1 percent of the second half of last year’s pay on Feb. 21.
That bonus, which is based on similar metrics to the local “Pay for Performance” program, is a product of an agreement reached at the end of 2011 that also led to the dismissal of the National Labor Relations Board case targeting Boeing South Carolina. The local plant is nonunion, but the Machinists have been trying to organize a bargaining unit in North Charleston.
All 787s have been grounded since Jan. 16 after a pair of smoky battery incidents. Nevertheless, production of the high-tech planes has continued. Between final assembly plants in Everett, Wash. and North Charleston, Boeing is making five planes a month now and hopes to double that rate by the end of the year.
Four sit on the ramp near Charleston International Airport.