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Boeing Executives Accused of ‘Strip Mining’ the Company at Senate Hearing

At a June 18 U.S. Senate hearing titled “Boeing’s Broken Safety Culture,” Dave Calhoun, the disgraced CEO of Boeing, faced hostile questions from the senators and jeers from protesters and family members of the 346 people killed in the crashes in 2018 and 2019 of Boeing 737 Max airliners. According to The Guardian over a dozen employees became public whistleblowers because they first tried to bring up safety issues with company managers, but were ignored and often suffered retaliation.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), chair of the subcommittee, said that “Boeing needs to stop thinking about the next earnings call and start thinking about the next generation.” Blumenthal called on other concerned Boeing employees to contact his office directly. Blumenthal continued, “This is a culture that continues to prioritize profits, push limits and disregard its workers, a culture that enables retaliation against those who do not submit to the bottom line. A culture that desperately needs to be repaired.” Josh Hawley (R-MO) said, “You’re cutting corners, you’re eliminating safety procedures, you’re sticking it to your employees.” Hawley then said, “I don’t think the problem is with the employees, I think the problem is with you, the C suite. I just hope you don’t destroy this company before it can be saved,” Hawley said. Hawley asked Calhoun why he had not resigned.

Calhoun acknowledged that “something went wrong” and admitted that there was retaliation against employees who brought up safety concerns. Calhoun said that, “Our culture is far from perfect, but we are taking action, and we are making progress.” Calhoun turned to the large crowd of family members of the crash victims and apologized directly to them. Calhoun graduated from college with a degree in accounting, but his real education may have been during his years at the Blackstone private equity firm, which includes some of the world’s most infamous asset-strippers and hostile takeover artists.

In addition to Congressional hearings, Boeing is under an investigation by the FBI, and is under an FAA audit, FAA oversight, and dozens of FAA inspectors are in each assembly plant. Entire classes of planes were temporarily grounded and assembly lines halted. Three top executives are all being forced into retirement in a leadership shakeup. In a 2021 court case, in exchange for avoiding criminal prosecution, Boeing agreed to pay a fine of $2.5 billion and admit that it willfully deceived the FAA. In May the prosecutors said that Boeing is not complying with the requirements of this 2021 deal.