Boeing purged veteran leaders, outsourced Dreamliner development to boost stock prices, bust unions: report

"I don’t think one can be cynical enough when it comes to these guys."


A report in The American Prospect has shed some light on the concerning behaviors within Boeing, including instances of corporate culture prioritizing profit over safety and the tragic consequences that ensued.

According to the report, under the leadership of former CEO Jim McNerney, who led the company from 2005 to 2015, Boeing adopted a new approach to "knowledge" that prioritized intellectual property and trade secrets over the expertise and experience of its workforce. Employees who emphasized plane integrity over stock prices were derogatorily labeled as "phenomenally talented assholes" and were marginalized within the company in an effort to have them leave. 

McNerney also made the decision to outsource a significant portion of the 787 Dreamliner's development and engineering to suppliers, many lacking sufficient expertise. While the decision was made in an attempt to cut costs and bust unions associated with the company, it resulted in cost overruns and delays amounting to billions of dollars.

One such outsourcing debacle involved a supplier that had subcontracted part of the 787 fuselage design to an Israeli firm that “botched the job,” leading to financial difficulties and requiring Boeing’s intervention. 

The company relocated managers from Washington state to South Carolina to train non-union workers in assembling planes in an effort to bust unions. 

The report also focused on John Barnett, the whistleblower who raised concerns about Boeing's practices and was tragically found dead from a gunshot wound, which law enforcement ruled as "self-inflicted." The discovery came after Barnett had started speaking out about the company’s safety concerns and told a family friend, “If anything happens, it’s not suicide.”

Regarding Barnett's mysterious and conveniently-timed death, one former Boeing executive told Maureen Tkacik, the author of the report, that when it comes to Boeing officials, “I don’t think one can be cynical enough when it comes to these guys.”

As Boeing has come under scrutiny for numerous instances of safety issues while passengers were on board its planes, whistleblowers are continuing to warn that the company has clearly prioritized profit over safety.

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