The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Profits and Safety Don’t Add Up

Apr 8, 2024

In late March, Boeing announced that its CEO and President, David Calhoun, was stepping down at the end of the year, as fleets of Boeing planes were grounded worldwide after a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines flight back in January.

When Calhoun was named CEO of Boeing in January 2020, he was supposed to reassure the public that Boeing planes were safe after two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets in 2018 and 2019 took the lives of 346 people.

Calhoun talked frequently about how he’d made safety a top priority for Boeing. But actions speak louder than words. After the pandemic hit in 2020, the company carried out waves of layoffs, buyouts, and retirements, bleeding the company of experienced workers, technicians, and engineers in its quest to lower labor costs and increase profits.

In November 2022, as Boeing began to churn out 737 Maxes after a two-year shutdown, Calhoun mocked all those who voiced concern about the lack of safety due to the big cuts and inexperienced labor.

Obviously, the main priority at Boeing was never safety but profits and the enrichment of Boeing’s major stockholders. As Boeing slashed its workforce, it showered Wall Street investors with 68 billion dollars in dividends and stock buybacks over the past decade.

Calhoun himself didn’t do too badly. In his first year on the job, he made over 21 million dollars, a 6.8 million dollar increase from what the prior CEO made. Besides that, Calhoun had the use of private jets supplied by Boeing to take more than 400 trips in three years around the country from his two homes, one a sprawling waterfront house at New Hampshire’s Lake Sunapee, the other in a gated South Carolina resort community.

Boeing’s big attacks on its workforce over the years showed that Boeing’s main priority was never safety but its profits to increase the wealth of the capitalist class on the back of its workforce.