Archive for January, 2013

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s maiden flight from Boeing’s Everett, WA assembly plant.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a case study in what happens with outsourcing and what happens when corporate management takes the view that labor is a widget that can be replaced.

Reuters reports today that a Japan Airlines Boeing Dreamliner was grounded earlier this week in Boston, due to a faulty fuel valve. Fuel shifted from the center tank to the left tank, and when the left tank filled, fuel “overflowed into a surge tank and out through a vent.” Passengers deplaned, and then the jet broke out in flames, ABC reported on Tuesday. Flames on an airplane sounds more Nightmareliner than Dreamliner.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrival in Toronto
photo by EyeNo on flickr

“The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Its variants seat 210 to 290 passengers. Boeing states that it is the company’s most fuel-efficient airliner and the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction.[4] According to Boeing, the 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized 767.[5] Its distinguishing features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles, and a smoother nose contour. The 787 shares a common type rating with the larger 777 twinjet, allowing qualified pilots to operate both models, due to related design features.[6]” Source.

The Boeing 787 heavy jet has been years in the making. Boeing was involved in contract negotiations with the union workers at the Everett plant several years ago, but the negotiations broke down. Boeing announced a decision to build a new assembly plant and relocate to another state. Everett and Boeing’s workers feared the worst: further economic depression and job loss for the town and community. The union workers responded with a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board NLRB, alleging that Boeing’s decision to move was in retaliation to the union workers and was outside the guidelines of labor relations. There was a hearing before the NLRB. The Boeing Company claimed otherwise, citing merely economic strategy, nothing more. The NLRB ruled against the Boeing Company, and foreclosed Boeing from the move.

Boeing continued to assemble the 787 at the Everett plant. The issue became political, with, to sum as a layperson observer, the Republicans predictably accusing Obama of ‘socialism:’ corporations have the right to tell their workers to go fuck themselves because workers’ work is a ‘widget,’ and a widget is a widget, anywhere in the world. The Boeing workers are not really human, they are a resource. The company has the right to maximize profits for shareholders and if labor costs must be reduced by moving jobs and productions elsewhere, this is an ‘ethical’ obligation for the corporation. By this time, Boeing had already outsourced the job of creating the parts for the plane to other countries, so there were already many worldwide subcontractors.

So, the stuff is being produced elsewhere, and in some cases partially assembled elsewhere, and shipped back to Everett, where some remaining workers assemble the parts into a plane. Meanwhile, the company is out trying to sell the plane, and (I feel sorry for the Boeing sales reps) the plane looks really good on paper. Light composite fuselage, fuel efficient, a technological leap forward.

Poor Boeing sales reps probably never guessed just how goddamn fuel efficient a heavy jet could be, especially when all the fuel gets dumped out a vent on the left side of the plane and catches on fire. Lightest heavy jet indeed.

Customers meanwhile placed orders: ANA, JAL, United, Air India, and others. Hundreds of orders were placed, but only a few planes have been delivered. Problems have been nonstop, the beat goes on, the public relations campaign tries to put a lid on the never-ending delays and pissed off customers.

The 787 situation goes right to the heart of the idea that predatory capitalism, while it represents enormous wealth to a small group of people, it does so at great risk to the people. To pull off the spin that we are all a lot better off with outsourcing, it is a war against labor. It is a war that must ignore, in particular, that labor involves hands, fingers, eyeballs and calipers.

The people who are creating wealth are the people who are actually doing the tedious work necessary for safety in the end product, and that is the worker. The worker creates and assembles the actual thing that has value. I wonder: Are the predatory capitalists willing to fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner today?

Boeing 787 Dreamliner glitches: How serious are the problems? (+video) Christain Science Monitor

This blog was initially posted at Firedoglake here.

Deep diving a dumpster in Seattle. (photo: sea turtle via Flickr)

This morning’s Over Easy is an addition to the first diary I ever posted at Firedoglake, with an update on our dumpster diving experiences during the holiday season.

WikiHow has an excellent article on dumpster diving technique, to which I only add: 1. Never dive a medical or hospital dumpster 2. Never dive a compacting or off-limits (ie, gated/not in the public domain) dumpster 3. Dive in quadrants. This way, you never have to throw anything outside of the dumpster in order to get at the contents at the bottom. 4. Double your configuration, like  a cave diver, and carry two of everything (flashlights, wire cutters, magnets), except your wallet or money, which you should not take with you, into a dumpster.

Scrap metal recycle prices vary a bit from one junkyard to the next. The money scrap metals are copper, brass, aluminum, and non-magnetic stainless steel; junkyards want your scrap load sorted prior to reaching the scale. January is the best month of the year for scrap metal divers (scrappers) because Christmas is now a disposable holiday. Post-holiday Christmas lights are abundant, for example.

I am a baby boomer, born in 1960. Christmas was sacred and magical for as many years as I can remember until recently. We hand-made many of our own ornaments (remember felt, glue, sequins and styrofoam?) and saved everything from year to year. My mother kept our precious ornaments in the same box, each carefully wrapped in newspaper and saved. We saved our bubble lights and ice cycles.

That doesn’t happen anymore. Christmas is manufactured overseas, sold in the Big-box, and disposable, including all ornaments, lights, fake trees, nativity sets, and gifts, toys and clothing. We are losing our craftsmanship and precise arts as quickly as the Arctic melts.

People begin shopping on Black Friday, and get a tree up shortly thereafter. Late November/early December dumpsters may deliver insulated copper in the form of last year’s lights that have been inexplicably replaced by this year’s model, a few fake trees and even Christmas wrap, tape, bows, ribbon, lace and tags, still new in packages as though people are actually afraid to use anything from last year, God forbid.

December 26 through the New Year are generally cardboard box days, and although cardboard brings $60.00/ton at recycle, cardboard transport is problematic without a modified truck bed.  After the first of the year, the land of dumpsters is most interesting and productive. Lights. Rejected presents,  New With Tags. Fully decorated trees. Appliances, if new gifts replace the old, and even furniture, again if old must be discarded to make way for new.  We have not been to the mall in years. Every appliance we have was retrieved, new, boxed, and never used, from dumpsters. Same with all of our furniture and all of our clothing. If you live in an area where people don’t take down their trees until February, you can vicariously celebrate the holidays for two or three straight months.

UPDATE:

The year after I wrote this, our local recycle center reduced the cash payment for all Christmas light strings and other plug-in cords by sixty percent, causing many scrappers to discontinue retrieving cords in lieu of collecting bulk magnetic scrap metal.

Last year we exchanged our truck for a motorcycle and quit scrapping. Our most lucrative scrap dumpster was related to infrastructure, and when the company itself began to recycle and disallow scrap dumpster divers, we made a decision to give up scrapping.

We are now entering our third consecutive year of eating from dumpsters. About 75% of our nutrition comes from dumpsters. We did observe what we believe to be an abundance of meat in the fall due to the sell-off of livestock during the exceptional drought season of the summer. We most often eat steamed vegetables and crock pot meals, with salads, abundant fresh fruit, and some sweets. We must purchase coffee and tea. We have been sick only one time, and that was after eating a fast-food meal inside a restaurant and not from a dumpster meal.

Our appliances, dishes, household items and many clothes now come from our own apartment complex dumpsters or curbs, during end-of-month move-outs. We are transitioning from diving due to great need to diving by choice, because we continue to believe strongly in the principles of reuse and living with less.

Years ago I began this strange, stigmatized hobby because of need, when I inadvertently discovered my real passion of looking for things that show sociological or historical trends and stories, so for me, the fun is in the urban archaeology. What media and social culture wants us to see is on the surface. If you want to know about the real world, look at what people throw away.

DUMPSTER DIVING IN THE NEWS:

Northwest Cook: New reality cooking show starts with Dumpster diving

From Trash to Table: Austrian Activists Launch Freegan Cooking Show

Dumpster divers swoop in to grab $40,000 worth of pricy fresh food