BAMBERG — Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor just days away from joining the Boeing Co. board, says the aircraft maker must be "accountable" and "transparent" in handling recent controversies that grounded an entire line of jets and raised questions about sloppy manufacturing at its North Charleston plant.
"Every company has its ups and downs. I think that Boeing needs to take this seriously and be as transparent as they possibly can," Haley said Wednesday after touring an elementary school in her hometown of Bamberg. "I think they need to look into every situation, and I think they need to be accountable and be responsible to what they can improve and then be transparent on what they can't."
Haley is expected to join the Boeing Co. board Monday at the aerospace giant's annual meeting of shareholders. The company has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after two deadly crashes led to grounding its fleet of 737 Max jets worldwide and a New York Times report raised concerns about loose parts and finding qualified local workers at the company's North Charleston plant that produces the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner jets.
When she was governor from 2011 to 2017, Haley said she did not hear any complaints about shoddy workmanship or difficulties in hiring workers at the South Carolina plant.
She said she did hear issues about making sure state technical schools were "fully engaged" on the skills Boeing needed. Haley said the company also needed help to fit into the Southern culture, such as knowing some employees would be reluctant to work overtime shifts on Sundays because they are "church days."
Haley was South Carolina's governor when Boeing announced a $1 billion North Charleston expansion in 2013 that came with $120 million in economic incentives from the state. Haley, who stepped down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in December, said she believes Boeing will make the right changes.
"They're a good quality company. They've always made great planes," she said. "We're proud of our South Carolina workforce. So I'm going to do everything I can to help bring clarity to the situation and try do all I can to help them."