Union claims Boeing fails to track foreign workers

A union representing more than 20,000 engineering workers at Boeing Co. is accusing the company of being lax in tracking its foreign workers, which could put the delivery schedules for defense and commercial work at risk.

"We continue to uncover a pattern of abuse of foreign contract labor at Boeing facilities," said Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which is Local 2001 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. The organization represents 21,500 engineers and technical employees at Boeing.

"This is bringing the mistake of outsourcing, which continues to delay the 787, right into Boeing offices and factories," Goforth added.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner commercial jet, which is being built with international partners, has been delayed because of production problems. In one setback, an Italian partner working for Boeing in South Carolina damaged a center fuselage piece in June.

In addition, union officials said, 300 contractors from Russia were working at Boeing under the B-1 visa program, which is typically reserved for visitors on business trips.

Boeing officials defended the company's strategy.

"The use of non-Boeing labor has long been a part of our business plan and one that SPEEA understands and has helped develop and guide over the years," Boeing officials said in a statement released by Tim Healy, spokesman. "In this specific case, SPEEA has asked some questions and raised some concerns about some of these non-Boeing engineers, and we're in the process of investigating the facts relating to those concerns. We have been sharing and will continue to share information with SPEEA as our investigation proceeds."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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