While Boeing touts profits, workforce shrinks

Boeing’s executives in Chicago seem to have forgotten that their most powerful competitive advantage always has been — and continues to be — its workforce here at home.

BOEING executives are gushing over the company’s stock, up a whopping 58 percent over the last 12 months. Washington state’s homegrown aerospace giant left the Paris Air Show with 571 orders worth $75 billion. Its chief competitor, Airbus, had 336.

A fourth of Boeing’s air-show orders were for the 737 MAX 10, built by Boeing Machinists right here in the Puget Sound region. After a successful launch in Paris, Boeing’s top marketing officer said the newest 737 derivative was “clearly the star of the show.” Boeing already has more than 300 orders for the 777X, still three years from rolling off the production line.

The company is enjoying simultaneously robust outlooks in both commercial and defense. That’s what makes Boeing’s recent job cuts, its deepest in more than a decade, even more upsetting.

When a company is thriving, it’s often taken for granted that the employees who make it possible are sharing in the success. That’s the way it used to be for generations of Boeing Machinist families. It made for a good living for hundreds of thousands of people, who spent their hard-earned dollars in the Seattle area.

The success-sharing model also made Boeing the most innovative and productive aerospace company the world has ever seen. Its dedicated and skilled workforce, who for a century have tackled every challenge in front of them, continue to make the industry’s most advanced — and profitable — aircraft. This year, Boeing reported a second-quarter net profit of $1.8 billion.

But at a time when many North American companies are bringing work home, Boeing is doing the opposite. Thus far in 2017, the company has shed more than 6,000 jobs, some 4 percent of its workforce, most of them in Washington state. Over the past four years, Boeing has reduced its Seattle-area workforce by more than 20,000.

Boeing’s pursuit of short-term profit for stockholders and executives is not only repulsive; it threatens the long-term viability of the entire…

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