At Boeing, 'People Get Promoted by Hustling Parts'

Whistleblower describes employees using scrapped and uninspected components
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 7:53 AM CDT
Another Boeing Whistleblower Goes Public—With Documents
An airplane flies over a sign on Boeing's 737 delivery center, Oct. 19, 2015, at Boeing Field in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Another Boeing whistleblower, speaking publicly for the first time, is backing up claims of pressure on employees to "emphasize speed over quality," as the New York Times puts it. Merle Meyers, who spent 30 years with Boeing before departing as a quality manager last year, says the company, which also employed his mother and father-in-law, helped bring his family out of poverty. "The Boeing Company has done everything for me, and I will never be able to do enough for them," the 65-year-old Christian chaplain tells the Times. "That's why you fight for it." In an effort to force change, Meyers is airing the concerns he raised before he quit because he felt like those concerns weren't being taken seriously.

Meyers, who spent the later part of his career in quality oversight in Everett, Washington, says he first noticed a shift to focus on profits over quality after Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. He says workers felt such pressure on production lines that they would nab parts assigned to other planes, parts that hadn't been inspected or logged, even parts that had been scrapped. A 2015 investigation found scrapped parts were recovered at least 23 times over 15 years, while a 2021 investigation found multiple cases of employees taking uninspected parts, per the Times. "What gets rewarded gets repeated," Meyers tells the outlet. "People get promoted by hustling parts."

Boeing says it investigates "all allegations of improper behavior, such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work diligently to address them and make improvements." But emails show Meyers' efforts to reach corporate investigators "often ended in frustration," per the Times. "Now, it's schedule that takes the lead," Meyers tells the outlet. The interview was published Thursday, just after Boeing released Q1 results with significant losses, though lower than forecasted, per Semafor. Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun attributed this to "the immediate actions we've taken to slow down 737 production to drive improvements in quality," per Yahoo Finance. (More Boeing stories.)

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