Sunday, June 8, 2014

9 years ago

From seeing some of the questions that pop up in Eagle-supported forums whenever the related topic is discussed (or harped about), one has to ask: where is there a fuller summary of what happened then than what we have seen? Too, whenever the topic is touched upon, viewpoints come forth that lead to people taking sides in the issue (like bragging, "I work there - you don't know what you're talking about" ---- or, like from the other side, "it was wrong, wrong").

So, does it not look as if there ought to be a summary of what went down on that weekend in June, of what led up the weekend of infamy, and of what ensued (all sides - more complete look - as in, not representing that history is written by the victors) after the fact of the weekend?


The topic? We'll get to that. Actually, one might argue that, since Boeing was such a major presence in the city of interest, for such a long time, those in the city ought to know what was behind all of this; too, the impacts upon those whose lives were seriously influenced make for stories that ought to be of interest both now and later.

Why? The recent downturn (recession) came about via those in power making decisions and being involved in activities very much of the type that can be associated with this particular affair (and its downs as well as it ups). So, the intent is not to belabor that which is misunderstood; rather, a bit of necessary analysis ought to have some attention, at some point. So, let's start that.


Below is a brief look at the weekend. In time, the story will (ought to) be more fully told - especially, in terms of the larger picture that has emerged so clearly - bringing forth disparities, for one. Too, though, given that the tenth year has rolled around (started, the ninth completed), preparations for celebrating / bemoaning the tenth anniversary ought to be of interest.

As an aside, we are looking for stories which can be conveyed anonymously. The mechanism will be more fully described in time, but, for now, if you have something to offer, send a note.


So, what is the timeframe? Nine years ago, last weekend, as in the first weekend in June, in 2005, Boeing (and Newco, so called, at the time) pushed all of its employees (who were under the proposed removal to Newco) out the door right before the weekend (lots of details glossed over here). Why? We'll see below.

Now, the more insightful workers took their stuff with them when they left on Friday as it turns out that many did not get an "offer" over the weekend and so could not come back.

Offer? Yes, an invitation to work at the Newco. In the planning, Nigel of Onex (who was running the show as the buyer) had this thought (which he denies): why not humiliate a whole bunch of people (Jobs, labor, disrespect) and make a statement? Remember, at the time of the planning, these people (not receiving offers) were still Boeing employees (until pushed out the door on Friday), so that whole bit of display was counter to what Boeing claimed was its ethical-ness.

The plan, you see, was that offers would come in the mail (which is, for the most part, private). Some seem to have thought that offers would be in Saturday's mail (actually, many got their offer on Friday). And, the other part of Nigel's plan, to which Boeing managers (yes) capitulated due to their starry-eyed lust for the big time (as in big pockets - and, folks, near-zero needs more attention), was how ought non-offer (read, rejection) letters be sent out.


Why start with this? Well, when one considers the human aspects, that weekend looms large, as we will see. Too, such shenanigans represent deep seated disrespect for workers (albeit, one might claim that Unions having caused Boeing grief over the years were fair game - but, there are two side to that story).


And so, some (many, by certain counts) did not get an offer. As mentioned here and elsewhere, many employees were left hanging and awaiting. Then, on the Saturday of that weekend in June, a DHL truck pulled up in front of a large number of houses in town in order to deliver to the occupant a package from their old-beloved (many times) employer that contained bad news: get lost, you were not welcomed back.

In many cases, this message was delivered to old-time, devoted employees.

Too, the package told the ex-employee about a day that had been set aside for them to line up at Boeing and get their stuff.


Now, this is short, however we do intend to get as many stories together over the next year as we can. Too, we'll be researching the incident more fully, including making the arguments about how this little case represented the mania of those times. Mind you, the motivation is more toward a closure state than any other goal. Too, lessons learned are lurking there; so, let's pull them to visibility.


Now, we can consider some cases, from that one weekend.

First, the winner side, as is that not the American way?
    - Of course, we ought to start with those who got an offer. Yes, they were many, of several types. But, all came back to work with a heavier non-disclosure onus (3-paragraph piece of paper replaced by three pages of small type) plus they were in limbo as the divestiture was not complete for a couple of weeks or so. Too, there are so many ways to characterize the state of the returnees, such as some came back with less pay.   
    - Most came back with lessened benefits, such as those related to insurance and retirement. Let's take retirement, for instance. Some who were within just a handful, or less, of years from being able to retire (so close as to smell it) had their 401K frozen and their pension taken over by the Newco. There was some controversy over this, but enough time has elapsed to see the effects. In one case, someone who recently thought of retiring (was close to the age of 55 that weekend) has a big disparity between the estimated amount shown by a Boeing report from the earlier years and the reality (a difference of greater than half). Is that winning (some wag might mention the downturn, sure, however recall that things behind the downfall were being done by those who were principal actors in this case)? 
    - You see, many of these older folks could not transfer to other Boeing sites, either within Wichita or elsewhere. That was part of the plan (more below). So, they were trapped. And, these people saw an immediate bifurcation. Many were over 55 and could retire. That meant that these workers had their Newco pay plus the Boeing retirement pay plus (and this is the biggie) Boeing retiree insurance that would be in place until Medicare age (as opposed to those insurance plans offered, in general, to Newco persons). Minor? Perhaps in the eyes of some, but, in the aggregate, these little stories add up to a hugh, stenching mess. 
    - Let's talk another type of winner. Those who received an offer but did not opt for Newco (more on that below). 
Now, for the loser side (perhaps of a much larger set than allowed if we looked at the near-zero aspects of this thing) of the issue:
    - One, of very many, long-time employees got the Saturday treatment. That person did not think to take personal things on Friday. What was lost? Years of information (contacts, etc.) that had been accumulated. Not his? Consider, please, that Boeing (as would any forward-looking company) sponsored many external professional relationships. Evidently, this employee did not catch a drift of the bad spirit'd-ness that was around and about. Fortunately, this guy landed on his feet and is doing very well (thank you, Boeing, for setting him free). Too, the guy got his retirement, and related benefits, after a wait of just a couple of years. Almost a winner would you not think?  
    - Others, of a certain age, who did not get an offer, were out of their early retirement by design. There was much discussion about this decision when it became known. Some even wondered how this whole way of thinking could be legal. That is, the shock was palpable in a whole lot of homes (both for those not getting an offer and those facing Newco's reality). 
    - There is one class that needs some attention (yes, Eagle). Some got an offer (supposed winners) and did not take the offer. Now, further below is one such case (with a little more detail). In general, though, many of those who made this choice to opt out suffered unexpected travails. Why? They did not believe that Boeing managers would stoop to such types of shenanigans that ensued. But, read below (doubters, especially). 
    - Then, there were those workers (winners who got an offer) who were not old enough to retire from Boeing such as the one example (above, winners). Many of these were just too young to be close to retirement. But, they had to go back to work with gloaters who could retire and get retirement benefits. Do we know the size of this class? Essentially, these people had reduced benes and pay from the new company while they were working alongside the double-dippers. 
No doubt, there will be more types of cases. I know of several who were heart-broken (Shattered dreams - see Comments) by this whole deal.

Also, Raytheon/Beech went with the same approach, later, which event was followed by so many deleterious results (Hawker spooked) that we all know (but that will be part of the story, too - imagine, all this in little Wichita).


Now, about winning and losing. One person got the offer (winner?) but rejected it on Tuesday morning. Basically, Monday had been used to tie things up and to mull over the situation. On Tuesday, the worker told the boss about the decision.

At that time, the plan (Nigel's or of Boeing managers who were gleefully applying the boot to the behind) kicked in. The worker was summarily thrown out the door (perhaps, we could say, ceremoniously - ah, those gloating idiots with starry eyes) in a nape-of-the-neck, arse-kicking mode (yes, like a drunk from a bar being thrown into the dirty street). However, that was not the worst part of the deal this person would soon find out. Those Boeing managers put the worker on a slippery slope (details will be forthcoming, when the story is told). Essentially, "thugs" comes to mind when one considers these folks and their methods.

Briefly: retirement insurance taken away, stock options declared null, general trashing of the guy's record, etc. And, these were Boeing managers (the company that touted its best-ness and talks about fairness and so forth) doing this type of mischief!

Needless to say, the managers did not prevail as the worker was able to counter their attempts (for the most part - more to tell here), and their machinations were temporary irritations (and lessons).

In retrospect, one can understand the enthusiasm of these people chasing after their Newco goals (pursuing the American dream?). Too, one can get the gist of this type of thinking (Bush made it famous): you're either with us or agin' us.


Yet, business does talk ethics (while stabbing you in the back simultaneously?). In the larger context, the little incidents from that weekend in June in Wichita are representative of so much. We will need to consider the totality of the historic unfolding that started so long ago on the shores of this nation and continue to this day. Yes, the historic perspective would put little Wichita right in the center of a whole bunch of messes (from which, perhaps, we can learn something).

The economic bifurcations, of so much interest currently, are the consequence of decisions (as said above), can indicate to us a whole lot of underlying problems, and will stand as a measure (almost) against which we might assess progress toward a more sustainable economy (assuming that we really want to attain such).


So, finally, as we are being brief, here is little more of a tale (from BW, Boeing worker):
    On one day in early March, 2005, BW went to Ethics training. This was mandatory, that year. One CEO had been bounced; another was shortly to be bounced. Jim M was brought in - a little later - to raise the ethical standard. Has he (more to discuss)? At Ethics, the expert touted that the golden rule was (had to be) the focus. This rule was seen as essential; how else? any reasonable person might ask. Too, at the time, Boeing management stressed, quite emphatically (harped and harped), that relationships and dealings at work had to be open and honest (ah, we do have to get back to this - heard it on the telly today). 
    After the Ethics training of that day, the BW went to another type of indoctrination (in a room that, later, SPR used Greenwood - Weagle - to talk about, as being a "bat cave" -- er, rat hole?). Essentially, it was a war room that was being used to plan/execute this whole affair (as in, that event which included the infamous weekend in June). Actually, the cave/hole had been in operation several months, already (let's say, the Fall of 2004). On that day, the BW got marching papers, so to speak. 
    What ensued between that time of seeing the good (trying to be ethical), the bad (green-eye'd plotters who were at it with such vigor) and (what turned out to be) the ugly and of experiencing the weekend is an interesting tale of subterfuge, chicanery, almost sophomoric glee at breaking the Unions, and other un-glamorous behavior on the part of Boeing managers (is that point emphasized too much? not!). 
    Essentially, over those last few months, the extent of split-tongue'd talking at all levels was an eye-opener for BW. Remember, these managers had stressed that their ethical selves demanded such good behavior from the employees (classic moral: do as I say not as I do?). Too, the anticipation of "big bucks" was so palpable (yes, it was way before Google and Facebook, but the takings that have been recorded pale in comparison (say, with FB) - at the time, Boeing was doing something called the Chairman's Innovation Initiative -- this whole thing seemed to be a massive example of a CII project). But, there is more to the tale, here, too.  

Some who have discussed what the DHL/email weekend meant to them have used a term related to early pre-WWII events; it was of such impact, especially to those who have not experienced, prior to this, such slapping up the side of the head (or, could not believe such bad manners could be associated with Boeing managers (ah, le creme) - oh well, they could point to Nigel).

In other words, we ought to express the facts about this and document the effects; in other words, even if they point to a reality of complicity, manipulation, and stench (all to be explained, in due time), the tales need telling.


The above is only a part of the story. At the appropriate time, we expect to offer a means for others to tell their side of this story (no doubt, there will be many sides). Will lil jefe Jeffy give us his take? Yes, do you not want to hear from him?

All in all, the tale has not been told, as it ought. As well, can this whole thing be considered good, in general? Yes, Boeing might have some things to tell us about lesson learned.

Remarks: Modified: 08/24/2016

06/08/2014 -- We all need a fresh look (even those with big, distracting pockets). 

06/15/2014 -- Timing? This week, SPR celebrated shipment of the 5Kth 737, of a certain variety. Nice accomplishment (for a Boeing sub-organization?). So, congratulations are in order for maintaining output through the past nine years. ... To be complete, though, there has to be mention that this post was motivated, in part, by the discussions surrounding a possible sale of fabrication supposedly to make more room for assembly. Some comments at the site (see article above) seemed to indicate that many do not know what went down nine years ago. Is it important? Depends, okay. At least, the facts ought to be somewhere that we can see. ... Now, other talk, currently, is about whether the site (or SPR) would drop other customers and concentrate on Boeing work. Too, some rumors point toward other types of sales. ...

07/10/2014 -- Business week had a little ditty about Gerry. Thrives in the shadow, it says. Has a big impact upon the lives of  many, it does not say. ... As we're getting technical again, of course, this topic will be studied in depth. We'll, perhaps, have a journal, like this tech one. ... Along with this, we'll be considering Sandberg and more. This bit on what makes for success foretells some topics.

06/08/2015 -- Continuation of the theme.

08/24/2016 -- Boeing is 100, this year.