By Alwyn Scott
NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Boeing Co notched up bonuses for engineers, machinists and other employees on Thursday, a response to the company’s strong 2013 performance.
Some 109,000 workers are eligible for a payout that is “among the highest-ever levels”, the company said.
The group includes non-represented employees as well as engineers and technicians represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), Boeing said.
The bonus equates to between 6.15 percent and 6.54 percent of eligible 2013 pay, up from a range of 5.67 to 6.1 percent in 2012. About 51,600 of the workers are in Washington state.
Separately, about 31,000 machinists will get bonuses of 4 percent of eligible pay, the maximum under their contract, Boeing said.
Boeing had a succession of highly profitable quarters in 2013 as it cranked up production of commercial jets, offsetting weakness in its defense businesses.
On Wednesday, Boeing said profit rose 18 percent for the full year, during which it delivered a record 648 commercial jetliners.
Alongside the profit report, however, Boeing made a conservative forecast for 2014, suggesting earnings will rise only about 2 percent.
While Boeing often manages expectations down at the start of the year, its stock fell nearly 8 percent in two days, including a slide of 2.5 percent on Thursday to $126.53.
The bonuses come as Boeing is mending relations with its unions after a bitter contract vote by the machinists earlier this month. The company faces tough technical challenges in developing two new jets, the 777X and the 737 MAX during the rest of the decade.
The machinists recently ratified by a narrow margin an eight-year extension to their labor contract. The vote on Jan. 3 brought out deep divisions within the union and between the workers and Boeing.
The new contract guaranteed machinists work on the 777X. In exchange, the workers agreed to end their defined-benefit pension and replace it with a defined-contribution plan.
McNerney said on Wednesday that he saw the relationship with the machinists improving and that the head of Boeing’s airplane business, Ray Conner, was “reaching out” to the unions and the unions are “also reaching out.”
“There’s more interaction right now between IAM-751 and the management in Seattle than there has been in a long time,” he said.
IAM officials in Seattle said there had been no meetings between local union officials and the company. They welcomed the bonus as a sign of the contribution workers made.
“It’s good to see them getting rewarded for their skills and hard work,” said Bryan Corliss, spokesman for the IAM District 751, which represents about 31,000 workers at Boeing.
As for the mood of the workers, he said: “It’s going to be awhile before we’re ‘one Boeing’ again.”