Boeing reports big first quarter loss in the middle of negotiations with its firefighters union

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Boeing has reported a $355 million net loss for its first quarter of 2024. This comes after months of scrutiny following a door plug that blew off an Alaska Airlines flight back in January and other issues related to quality control issues and safety. The loss is a big blow to the company but it’s not as bad as some experts thought it would be.

“I’m a little surprised they weren’t worse than what they turned out to be,” John Nance, an aviation expert, said. “Obviously, Boeing has been going through a patch of very rough waters.”

This all comes as the airline manufacturing giant is in the middle of negotiations with its firefighters union, IAFF Local I-66. KIRO 7 spoke exclusively with Lieutenant Jonathon Riggsby who said what firefighters want is simple. He said they want adequate staffing levels to maintain safety standards, higher wages and the ability to progress faster and earn top scale wages.

“We can’t keep firefighters at Boeing because the wages don’t allow them to live,” he said. “What the company is offering us right now is you know do more with less.” Riggsby said that Boeing’s firefighters earn on average about twenty percent less than firefighters at agencies around the Puget Sound.

“It’s $25 an hour starting for one of those firefighters,” he said. He also explained that as it stands, it takes Boeing firefighters 14 years to earn top scale pay and the company is proposing moving that to 19 years.

“I don’t think that’s fair to someone who is committing their life and their career to have to wait that long,” Riggsby said.

Boeing sent KIRO 7 a statement saying, “We are disappointed the union rejected our final offer that would increase our firefighters’ pay while continuing to provide outstanding healthcare coverage and one of the best 401(k) plans in the nation. A cooling-off period that prevents a work stoppage expires on May 3. In the meantime, we have activated our contingency plan which will ensure uninterrupted firefighting support at our Puget Sound sites and allow us to safely continue all business operations as normal.”

“Right now, Boeing is a little weak in terms of their ability to say no we’re not giving in on anything, by the same token I think the unions are very wise in terms of not wanting to kill the golden goose,” Nance said. Despite the major loss for this quarter, Nance said Boeing is still strong.

“Even though we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in loss we’re also talking about a company that has a net worth and value that is greatly in excess of anything that you see,” he said.