Boeing’s South Carolina Dreamliner assembly plant is struggling to keep up with its already delayed production quotas, multiple sources at the heavily taxpayer-subsidized facility tell FITS.
Meanwhile the “tide is turning” toward unionization at the plant – which would be a major blow to S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, a vocal opponent of organized labor.
The North Charleston, S.C. facility – which has received more than $1 billion in taxpayer largesse – was originally supposed to produce three next generation passenger jets per month by the end of 2013. This summer, however, a company spokeswoman told Reuters the deadline had been pushed back to “mid-2014.”
Now sources tell FITS the deadline has been pushed back even further – and that the facility “might” reach its goal of three planes per month sometime in 2015.
“They are way behind,” one source told us. “They are not going to make the new deadline.”
Boeing’s North Charleston plant is currently producing 1.5 Dreamliners per month. Its South Carolina spokeswoman – Candy Eslinger – was not immediately available to comment on the plant’s future production goals.
In addition to its productivity problems, Boeing’s North Charleston plant also appears to be on the verge of a union takeover.
“More workers are wearing their IAM shirts on Fridays,” one source said, referring to an ongoing campaign by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Part of the problem appears to be the management style of Jack Jones, who took over day-to-day command of the plant in 2011.
“Workers aren’t allowed to leave the line for any reason without written permission,” one source told us.
Also, Jones is dealing with a “competency gap” compared to Boeing’s Everett, Washington, facility – unable to find qualified South Carolina workers to serve in key engineering positions.
“The engineers are being shipped in from Seattle,” our source said, adding that when it comes to top-tier manufacturing talent, “South Carolina can’t keep up with their needs.”
Given the ongoing academic failure of the state’s government-run education monopoly … is that really any surprise?
Haley and other status quo-supporting South Carolina politicians have bet big on Boeing and its Dreamliner – which continues to experience all sorts of problems in the wake of its global grounding earlier this year.
Originally scheduled for delivery in May of 2008, numerous design, supply and delivery problems pushed Dreamliner’s deadline back more than three years – causing numerous cancellations. Things haven’t gone much smoother since the plane took flight.
There is tremendous financial pressure on the company to turn a profit on the program – and the delays in South Carolina (where 30 percent of new Dreamliners are eventually supposed to be produced) are obviously being monitored closely.
Haley has been Boeing’s biggest cheerleader, referring to 787s as “Mack Daddy Planes” during a speech to the Republican National Convention last year. Meanwhile S.C. Senator Hugh Leatherman – a big-spending liberal from Florence, S.C. who helped negotiate the company’s incentives – proudly refers to himself around the S.C. State House as “Senator Boeing.”
Neither politician was immediately available to comment on the disturbing reports coming from North Charleston.