Boeing’s largest plant in ‘panic mode’ amid safety crisis, say workers and union officials | Boeing

Boeing’s largest factory is in “panic mode”, according to workers and union officials, with managers accused of hounding staff to keep quiet over quality concerns.

The US plane maker has been grappling with a safety crisis sparked by a cabin panel blowout during a flight in January, and intense scrutiny of its production line as regulators launched a string of investigations.

Its site at Everett, Washington – hailed as the world’s biggest manufacturing building – is at the heart of Boeing’s operation, responsible for building planes like the 747 and 767, and fixing the 787 Dreamliner.

One mechanic at the complex, who has worked for Boeing for more than three decades, has claimed it is “full of” faulty 787 jets that need fixing.

Many of these jets are flown from Boeing’s site in South Carolina, where the company shifted final assembly of the 787 in 2021 in what was characterized as a cost-cutting measure.

“There is no way in God’s green earth I would want to be a pilot in South Carolina flying those from South Carolina to here,” the mechanic, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, told the Guardian. “Because when they get in here, we’re stripping them apart.”

Managers at Everett “will hound mechanics” to keep quiet about quality-assurance concerns and potential repairs, the mechanic alleged, emphasizing speed and efficiency over safety. He added: “Boeing has to look in the mirror and say: ‘We’re wrong.’”

Boeing did not comment on claims that staff have been pressured not to raise concerns about quality. Work at Everett on 787 jets is taking place as part of an established verification program, it said.

The company met this week with US regulators to discuss how it plans to address quality-control issues. Executives have recently described how workers have been emboldened to speak up since January, with submissions to an internal portal for safety and quality concerns up 500%.

Earlier this year, a panel of experts, which was appointed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people, described a “disconnect” between Boeing’s leadership and workforce on safety, and made 53 recommendations to help resolve its concerns.

After January’s blowout,

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Business owners in Downtown Eastside say tent removals did little to improve sense of safety

Some Downtown Eastside business owners say the recent removal of tent encampments has done little to increase foot traffic in the area or improve their sense of safety.

A number of small business owners in the Hastings-Crossing neighbourhood say they are speaking out in hopes of saving their livelihoods, mental health and bringing about substantive changes to their area.

“I feel like it’s clear it’s been neglected,” said Linda Ly.

In 2015, Ly opened Onyx Nail Salon on Abbott Street, just off East Hastings Street. She says the area has declined considerably since, particularly during the pandemic.

WATCH | Safety concerns remain in Downtown Eastside, say business owners: 

Downtown Eastside businesses say tent removals did little to improve safety

One month after tents were removed from Vancouver’s East Hastings street, businesses near the centre of the Downtown Eastside say little has changed, and in some cases, believe the decampment has made things worse.

She says worries for her and her all-female staff’s safety more than ever, and keeps her doors locked at all times.

“I’ve got spat on,” said Ly. “The [female staff] got chased here.”

Shortly after tents were formally removed on April 5 and 6, she says a naked man chased one of her employees into the salon and kept rattling the door after she ran inside and locked it.

Ly says she wants governments to move quicker in helping people struggling with mental health and drug use, and not just focus on cosmetic changes like removing tents.

Rasa Shadmani says more people have been camping in front of her pizza shop since tents were removed in early April by the city of Vancouver.
Rasa Shadmani says she often works alone and is worried about the disturbances and thefts at her pizza shop just off East Hastings Street. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Her neighbour, Rasa Shadmani, who owns Tanoor Pizza, is pushing for similar action.

Since tents were removed, she says more people have been camping and sleeping outside her front door. 

She tries to help and offer food, but she says she finds most people are rarely hungry. Instead, she believes they need support in other ways.

“They need their space to live, they need home,” said Shadmani.

Shadmani adds that people experiencing mental health and drug use episodes end up in her restaurant at least four times a week. 

It leaves her barely able to sleep, she says, worried for her employees and spending nearly all her waking hours at work.

CBC's Lien Yeung speaks to Justin Hall who sets up shop daily along Abbott Street near East Hastings to sell his wares.
CBC’s Lien Yeung talks to Justin Hall, who sets up shop daily
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