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Thread: Life changing experiences

  1. #1
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    Life changing experiences

    I realized this morning that I am approaching the 20th anniversary of something that really changed my life. I could cut to the chase, make a long story short, etc.; but where's the fun in that? So I'll do it in several posts; and in the meantime you can talk about what changed your life.

    Part 1: Twenty years ago, at about this time, the company I worked for (Boeing) was in rather tense negotiations with the International Association of Machinists, local 751. Those are the men and women who actually build the airplanes. Negotiations were tense, at least in part, because the company had brought in a new CFO whose experience had all been in the auto industry. She was astounded that Boeing's assembly lines didn't just run 24/7 like she was used to, and decided to change that. The company went into negotiations demanding the right to assign any IAM employee to any shift eight days a week. And other concessions, especially regarding employee health insurance. The workers were not happy.

    The negotiations went about as well as could have been expected, which is to say, nowhere. Finally, at literally the 11th hour*, with the picket signs printed and burn barrels in place, the company CEO went into the hotel where negotiations were taking place and basically gave the union everything they wanted and then some. Rumor had it the Board had told him he'd be unemployed the next day if a strike happened.

    Whew. A sigh of relief for just about everyone. Stay tuned for part 2.

    * When I say the 11th hour, that's just what I mean. The strike was set for midnight. Signs were printed, burn barrels in place, pickets were just waiting for clock. The CEO arrived at 11:00PM and conceded everything.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  2. #2
    Was this the person who said you don't need engineers to build airplanes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Was this the person who said you don't need engineers to build airplanes.
    Yes, she was. Debbie Hopkins, I think.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    What about the CFO? Did they quit, or stay on? I assume they might have been a bit miffed to have the CEO come in and ignore their plans.
    As above, so below

  5. #5
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    She went to Lucent after a two year stint at Boeing. From Wikipedia:

    Deborah Chase Hopkins started her career at National Bank of Detroit,[4] then worked for five years at Ford as a financial analyst evaluating costs for various tractor models. From there she moved to Burroughs, again in finance; the firm later merged with Sperry to become Unisys.[6] After 13 years at Unisys, as Corporate Controller and General Manager of Global Services, she became General Auditor of General Motors, eventually moving to Switzerland as Chief Financial Officer of General Motors Europe.

    From 1998 to 2000, Hopkins was Chief Financial Officer for The Boeing Company.[7] Hopkins then moved to Lucent Technologies as Chief Financial Officer.[8] The company did not do well and she was fired after one year.[4] She then worked briefly with the management consulting firm, Marakon Associates.[citation needed]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer
    Was this the person who said you don't need engineers to build airplanes.
    Yes, she was. Debbie Hopkins, I think.
    How literal am I to take this? No engineers? Was this the switch-over period to computer-only aerodynamic "testing" (e.g. 777, was it?)?

    The best fought battles come from leaders who understand what the fox-holers are saying, and less about what's on their spreadsheet for that day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    What about the CFO? Did they quit, or stay on? I assume they might have been a bit miffed to have the CEO come in and ignore their plans.
    I always felt that had a lot to do with her leaving. As well as the CEO not having designated her as his successor.

    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    She went to Lucent after a two year stint at Boeing. From Wikipedia:
    Lucent was not a great success for her either, of course.

    Let's see, Part 2:
    Boeing is unusual is that engineering community is also represented by a union, specifically SPEEA. Unlike the IAM, membership was not mandatory and less than half belonged. We were quite relieved by the IAM settlement because in the past, that had always led the way for our own negotiations which followed a short time later. We were stunned, therefore, when the company dropped a Best And Final Offer which was amazingly bad, chock full of takeaways. Pretty much the only thing not terrible in it was the salary offer, which never changed through the months that followed.
    The union put it to a vote of the membership. It was rejected by 98% of engineers, and 99% of technical workers. The mood began to get tense, and ugly. Negotiations continued, in fits and starts, for the next few months. A second BAFO came out and was duly rejected. It was much better, and probably would have been accepted if it had been offered the first time, but now people were angry. The CFO made the statement noted above, to the financial media, because the stock price was falling and a strike looked possible. The VP of personnel said "Engineers need to understand they are not the center of the universe." A sign went up over my desk declaring that that location was, in fact the center of the universe.
    A third offer, significantly worse than the second, was tabled and the union refused to even submit it to the membership. The union began talking about holding a one-day strike; something they'd done once before. The membership slapped that down hard. If there was to be a strike, it would be a real one.
    And finally, at 9:00AM one February morning, we all got up from our desks and marched out the door.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    A couple of years earlier, my wife and I had bought our place at Port Townsend, for a weekend getaway and future retirement. So we loaded up the kitties and headed over there -- over here, now! -- for the duration. Once a week or so I'd go back to Everett to collect the mail, put the trash out, and walk the picket line a few times. Including the 2:00 AM shifts, which were surprisingly well populated.

    While in PT, I started out keeping busy by organizing the garage, organizing the shed, organizing the workshop, etc. That lasted a couple of weeks. I got bored. The internet wasn't a viable option as we only had dial-up over long distance. Daytime TV? No thank you, very much.

    Then I remembered my co-workers talking about a NOVA episode they'd seen on PBS. Secrets of Ancient Empires -- Medieval Siege. Ok, I could try building one of those, just a little one....
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    ...a trebuchet, of course. It was little. It was made entirely of scrap. The geometry was entirely wrong. I didn't know how to make a trigger or a sling, so I just tied a string with a loop on the end to a foam golf ball and held the arm down with my finger.

    It went about 20 feet. I was hooked for life. The End.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  10. #10
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    Hey, I think I saw that episode--when I was pregnant with my firstborn, who lives in Port Townsend! I was watching, and they were talking about the damage inflicted on a castle. "Huh," I said. "Sounds like a trebuchet." "Historians now believe," intoned the voiceover, "that it was caused by a weapon called a trebuchet."
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    I had to look, and of course it's on YouTube!
    My co-workers (or cow-orkers, if you prefer) all loved the episode. At that time I was at least semi-aware of trebuchets because, IIRC, I already had some trebuchet site or other bookmarked in Netscape Navigator, or some such medieval browser.
    Those guys all walked out with me, too. A couple of them spent the time re-siding their houses. One of Boeing's biggest miscalculations during that strike was that none of us was particularly worried about the short-term effects of missing paychecks.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    The largest Trebuchet I ever saw was at Warwick Castle, which makes sense since they claim it's the largest siege machine in the world. No argument from me.

    And it looks like they are trying to find a new throwing arm and the machine is currently down.

    https://www.warwick-castle.com/explo...trebuchet.aspx

  13. #13
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    Debbie Hopkins and Jody Allen---heirs to the Proxmire award.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    And finally, at 9:00AM one February morning, we all got up from our desks and marched out the door.
    Good on you. The only two reasons I had a place to live as a child:

    1.) my Dad.
    2.) the UTU

    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    The largest Trebuchet I ever saw was at Warwick Castle, which makes sense since they claim it's the largest siege machine in the world.
    Wait until they see Elon make one from an old Launch Umbilical Tower

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