READ THE FULL PACKAGE OF BOEING DOCUMENTS (3.8 MB PDF)
SEATTLE -- In a hotel function room in downtown Seattle on Friday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers released never-before-seen documents that provide a glimpse into Boeing manufacturing strategy and its analysis of Project Gemini, the plan to bring the second 787 final assembly line to North Charleston, South Carolina.
The conclusion drawn by the IAM is the presentations given to the Boeing Board of Directors serve as the "smoking gun" that validates the National Labor Relations Board case against Boeing, which alleges the company moved work to South Carolina in retaliation for the September-October 2008 strike.
However, the IAM's publication of the documents as excerpts of larger presentations, as indicated by non-sequential page numbering and does not provide a full picture of what other information was provided to the board.
While nothing in the documents explicitly suggests that the move to Charleston was a retaliatory move, the presentations point to Boeing's own analysis of the greenfield site as an expensive, high risk move that would further erode the profitability of the 787 and risk the coming production ramp up. Despite this rationale, the documents show the company ranked its labor dynamics ahead of any potential threat of not meeting customer commitments.
Separate from the IAM's evaluation of Boeing's motives for placing the second line in Charleston, one April 27, 2009 presentation outlines the company's second line strategy and purpose for "establishing long-term manufacturing capability outside of Puget Sound, starting with a second 787 final assembly line and progressing to the new airplane program".
This revelation will no-doubt spur a discussion that laments the actions of management or labor, but the publication of the documents - and their content - illustrate just how deep the adversarial "arm's-length" relationships runs between Boeing and its workforce stakeholder. Boeing's own description of a labor "hostage situation" is perhaps the clearest example of the state of its interaction with the representation of its largest group of employees.
The Piepenbrock Framework explains not only product development strategies of big "Blue" leaps, but the short-term decision-making that erodes trust and collaboration for mutual benefit of the organization's stakeholders. Boeing's relationship with labor, and labor's relationship with Boeing, by this standard, is a deep shade of Blue with little collaboration or trust to be found.
The documents illustrate, above all, how Boeing's leadership views its strategic decisions through a zero-sum lens that any move that creates a winner, must also by definition, create a loser.
For reference, the other codenamed projects in the document - Secretariat and Horseshoes 2 - are references to the July 2009 Vought Aircraft Industries 787 acquisition as well as the second half of the Global Aeronautica purchase which came in December 2009.
A selection of the slides are below the fold: