Boeing is in a world of trouble over the grounding of their entire 787 fleet. As you know this was ordered by the FAA due to batteries catching on fire. Engineers are scrambling to solve the problem as every day they're grounded costs Boeing money and of course hurts future sales. Right now the estimates are this will cost Boeing 5 billion dollars. But wait. Engineers are not scrambling to fix their mistake! They are planning a strike? NPR says they have been actually practicing how to set up a picket line! And the Engineers have printed T Shirts for their strike with the catch phrase "No Nerds, No Birds"!
Currently their birds are roasting, but they are more concerned about their retirement packages.
Boeing wants to offer new employees a so-called defined contribution plan — like a 401(k) — instead of a defined benefit plan like a traditional pension. "What that means is they're trying to get out of the mold where they're having their contribution amounts jackknifed by the economy, by interest rates, by the stock market and move to a more predictable funding flow," says Olivia Mitchell who specializes in pensions at the Wharton School of Business. Boeing's pension obligation totals $75 billion, which is more than the company's entire stock market value! The union says new hires will be shortchanged. Company officials concede new workers will get less than current employees, but they say the offer is still generous.
Wait! They're planning a strike during an emergency because future employees will only have a 401 K? And that leads to the problems with unions. The engineers could very easily say we'll hold off on the strike and negotiate again once WE FIX THE PROBLEM WE CREATED! Instead this crisis plays perfectly in to their hands as Boeing needs them to fix the battery problem.
If you were in that union and your bosses said you were to walk off the job during this crisis and put the entire company in jeopardy because they wanted to figure out a way to keep the company from colapsing under the burden of pensions, would you think they had people's best interest in mind? The union will point out that Boeing posted record profits last year, but fail to mention the retirement package is worth more than the entire company! GM was wiped out because they owed 100 billion in pensions! If they had a deal like a 401k where the cost was set annually they never would have found themselves 20 billion short on funds like they did in 2008. Boeing finds itself in the same place GM was. It makes a "record profit" but enough to fund the retirement packages they agreed to years ago. But management says they can survive if they just stop the practice for future employees. They're going to honor the bad deal they made with current employees! And your union bosses say no? Could it be because the union bosses at SPEEA get a cut of the all benefits paid? So if future employees retirement packages are worth less SPEEA bosses get paid less? Is a 401 K worth as much as a pension? Of course not. But SPEEA is playing a game where they could end up like the Hostess Bakers union which wouldn't budge on their demands and ended up with everyone unemployed.