Labor challenge filed against Spirit AeroSystems (Mike Majer)

(AP)  WICHITA, Kan. — The union representing engineers and technical workers at Spirit AeroSystems has filed a challenge to the way employees are evaluated, claiming the company “concocted a scheme” to blame workers for management’s poor decisions.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace said Thursday that it filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board because the company did not negotiate before implementing a performance improvement process for employees whose evaluations drop.

Union officials contend the company’s move violates contracts with 760 employees in its engineering unit and 2,270 workers in its technical and professional unit.

Daniel Hubbel, regional director for the NLRB, said an agent will be assigned to investigate the allegations. If they are found to have merit, the NLRB would issue a formal complaint that would be heard before an administrative law judge.

Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Ken Evans said the company will respond directly to the board “at the appropriate time”.

“Spirit believes that the health of our company hinges on each of us performing at full capacity and productivity,” Evans said in an email. “We constantly try to give accurate feedback to our employees regarding their performance and will continue to do so.”

Nearly 1,000 employees dropped in performance ratings without justification, SPEEA Midwest director Bob Brewer said. Employees who questioned their lower ratings were told the company is not performing well and the performance of its employees must correlate with the firm’s business performance, he said.

“Rather than accept responsibility for their own poor decisions, management concocted a scheme to blame employees,” SPEEA executive director Ray Goforth said in a news release. “An excellent employee doesn’t suddenly become a struggling performer because Spirit stock didn’t go up.”

Performance ratings are used to determine raises, promotions and terminate employees, the union said.

Brewer said in a news release that problems appeared when employees started receiving their final ratings in November.

“Without any notification to employees or the union, Spirit changed the criteria and methodology managers used to determine employee performance,” Brewer said. “It’s like having a manager tell you to prepare for an English test and then when it’s time for the test, it’s on calculus.”

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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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