Technical Glitches and Payments for Down Time Still Nag Boeing’s Dreamliner

Boeing 787 DreamlinerAnother fire, another mysterious technical glitch, and happy-go-lucky Boeing skips along enjoying strong sales, revenues and profits, despite the shadow of uncertainty that hangs over the lithium battery-charged Dreamliner.

The wide-bodied 787, following two fires on Japanese airliners in January that grounded them for months, experienced another blaze on July 12 at Heathrow Airport in London. This time the victim was Boeing customer Ethiopian Airlines, whose Dreamliner had a hole burned through the roof of the fuselage in front of the tail. The cause was attributed to an Emergency Locator Transmitter manufactured by Honeywell International, which contains a lithium manganese-dioxide battery – more about that later.

But the monster-sized lithium ion batteries that caused the January fires were cleared. Still, the Dreamliner has not been without its incidents this summer, which were spelled out earlier this week by travel writer Peter Greenberg. And another issue lingers from the …

Obama’s Chamber Speech a Tangle of Contradictions

In a speech today to the Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama called for a reduction in corporate tax rates and simplification of the tax code, but he then pitched alternative energy, which is based wholly on tax breaks and subsidies. He said spending must be reduced and then again plugged the boondoggle of high-speed rail, which only benefits politically-connected contractors and unions, and bond traders. He said he favored free trade and then claimed that inventing something here and manufacturing it abroad “breaks the social compact.”

Obama started by saying that Americans have had their faith shakened in the institution of business. This is not true. Americans are hard-working and entrepreneurial. People are upset with the excesses of Wall Street that have been rewarded with bailouts that Obama has now institutionalized. Executives of big banks and car companies know that they will never be allowed to fail. They are running …

Will SEC’s ‘Say on Pay’ Rule Do Any Good?

golden parachuteAs someone who has sponsored “Say on Pay” shareholder proposals with companies like Boeing and Procter & Gamble, I wonder whether SEC-mandated votes on executive compensation will do any good. In fact, I worry that it may lead to a false sense of shareholder empowerment.

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a rule requiring public companies to hold an advisory vote on executive pay at least once every three years.

At Boeing in 2008, our “Say on Pay” proposal got 38% of the vote, an extremely strong vote for a proposal opposed by the company’s management.  It had little impact. Management paid no attention to us and Boeing CEO James McNerney continues to be overpaid, even as the company experiences setback after setback.

Public companies should be controlled by shareholders, and their representatives, the board of directors. Unfortunately, corporate boards today are characterized by cronyism and …

Boeing Shareholder Proposal Targets ‘Golden Parachutes’

NLPC is a critic of the ethical climate fostered by Boeing’s management. In 2003, NLPC exposed the Boeing tanker deal scandal, sending two Boeing executives to prison, and saving taxpayers at least $4-5 billion.  In 2005, the Army announced that it would renegotiate Boeing’s contract for Future Combat Systems after NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm testified before a Senate committee that the contract exempted Boeing from virtually all statutes dealing with waste, fraud and abuse.

NLPC has also protested Boeing’s financial support for Jesse Jackson’s groups and its sponsorship of an 2006 event featuring Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan.

The resolution reads:

RESOLVED: that the shareholders of Boeing (“the Company”) urge the Board of Directors to seek shareholder approval of future severance agreements with senior executives that provide benefits in an amount exceeding 200% of the sum of the executives’ base salary plus bonus.

“Severance agreements” include any agreements or