April 15, 2024

A sign outside the Boeing 737 factory in Renton, Washington.

A sign outside the Boeing 737 factory in Renton, Washington.
Photo: Stephen Brashear (Getty Images)

Boeing workers, whose output has been under a whole lot of scrutiny lately, have recently complained about being overworked and underpaid. One way that companies try to fix compensation issues without the long-term fixed cost of higher salaries and hourly rates is with bonuses. In light of everything that’s been going on its commercial aviation division, the aircraft manufacturer is shifting the driver of bonuses for those workers from financial considerations to safety ones.

The company told Reuters that safety and quality metrics will now account for 60% of the payout for those workers. That will accompany loads of new training for all employees in safety practices and “quality management.”

Some customers have grumbled about the delays that have come in the wake of the Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 door plug blowout that has thrown a wrench into the company’s plans, but it’s hard to build planes faster if the government thinks speed is one of your business’s main problems. “I know that these moments that impact delivery schedules can frustrate our customers and our investors, but quality and safety must come above all else,” David Calhoun said during the company’s January earnings call.

No-hazard pay

The new arrangement might solve a couple problems. On the one hand, as federal investigators have laid out in their reports, Boeing’s “foundational commitment to safety” has been found lacking. On the other hand, the union representing the company’s rank-and-file employees has been agitating for higher wages ahead of negotiations that started today, a strike authorization vote in July, and a contract expiration in September.

For what it’s worth, for at least some employees the old compensation structures will stay in place. The parts of Boeing that service planes and build bombers and attack helicopters, Reuters reports, financial goals will still determine 75% of the bonus payout.

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