Author Topic: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs  (Read 437 times)

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Offline happyg

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Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs
« on: January 01, 2014, 02:07:42 PM »
By Sean Higgins

There is nothing particularly unusual about a local union leader telling members to reject management's latest offer. What's unusual is the union's national leadership intervening and telling those members to ignore their local leader and take the contract.

That is the latest twist in a running battle between airplane maker Boeing and the Seattle branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The stakes are whether company builds its new 777X fleet in Washington state.

The struggle raises a thorny question: Who is really representing the workers’ best interests here — the national union or the local one? And what exactly does the struggle say about how democratic unions really are?
The turmoil at Boeing became national news Nov. 13 when IAM District 751’s 32,000 members voted down a proposed eight-year contract extension by a 2-to-1 margin. The deal included modest raises, a $10,000-per-member signing bonus and would have ensured that the 777X is built in Puget Sound. (Not everyone agrees on the latter point, though.)

The members didn’t like it, particularly objecting to plans to convert their defined benefit pension into a 401(k)-style retirement plan.

The rejection was a black eye for District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, who negotiated the deal and appeared to give it his endorsement in a vaguely worded Nov. 5 statement. (He has since claimed he was neutral all along.)

Boeing has said that if it cannot reach terms, it will just build the 777X elsewhere. It has been publicly entertaining offers from numerous states, including Utah, Kansas, the Carolinas and Texas.

The company then made a new contract offer, but this time Wroblewski refused to even allow a vote on it. He said it was little different from the one already rejected.

On Thursday, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger overruled him and forced a Jan. 3 vote. Wroblewski is urging members to reject it.

Many IAM members think Boeing is bluffing. They argue that the work they do is, well, rocket science, and the company won’t be able to find qualified workers elsewhere.

Wroblewski said, “Washington state will remain the best place for Boeing to build the 777X. Every objective analysis of the business case shows that to be true.”

IAM member Dan Erskine told Seattle’s local NBC affiliate this was a PR campaign by Boeing to squeeze the union. “I don’t think they’re moving anywhere,” he said.

Buffenbarger, though, seems convinced that Boeing is not bluffing: “Your union … must take this threat seriously,” he said Friday.

Well, they cannot both be right. So who is representing the workers interests here? The local leaders who refused to have a vote, or the national ones who are forcing a vote while many members are still on vacation?

In a further irony, Buffenbarger has promised the Jan. 3 vote will be a “secret ballot process” to ensure that it is "free from any coercive or disruptive circumstances." That assurance runs directly contrary to Big Labor's support for card check, which would eliminate the secret ballot.

This is the same union where, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, "[n]o candidate opposing incumbent (national) leaders and their allies has won enough endorsements to get on the ballot since 1961."

In 2011, there was a similar struggle over Boeing's decision to build a plant in right-to-work South Carolina. It got a lot of attention at the time -- the federal government got involved -- only to fizzle out when Boeing and IAM belatedly reached a deal.

Is this just a replay of that? That’s one possibility. Another is last year's Hostess bankruptcy, in which the baker’s union discovered too late that management wasn’t bluffing after all.

On Jan. 3, everyone involved will be forced to show their cards.

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 04:45:35 PM »
The struggle raises a thorny question: Who is really representing the workers’ best interests here — the national union or the local one? And what exactly does the struggle say about how democratic unions really are?
A union that actually represents its members' interests is the exception anymore.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 04:46:00 PM by mountaineer »
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

Offline Cincinnatus

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Re: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2014, 05:17:21 PM »
Washington state is dominated by Liberals who just love to tax and spend, just like the big boys in the other Washington. For example, though WA already has one of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation, there are proposals afloat to raise it even higher, about $.10/gallon.

In the case of Boeing, however, a major employer on the state's west side where most of the Liberals reside, the Dems are apparently showing some dim understanding of the relationship between high taxation and business activity.

Boeing Co. received a huge tax break from the Washington state legislature on Monday, as Gov. Jay Inslee [Unlink] signed into law tax breaks that stretch out over 27 years until 2040.

The deal will provide $8.7 billion in tax breaks to the company. Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, which tracks such megadeals with states, said: “This is the biggest tax subsidy in US history. Nothing is near this deal: The fact it took place in days is breathtaking. This deal happens in the state that already has the most regressive tax code in the nation.”

Democratic state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, an architect of the deal, was quite positive on the deal, calling it an "an authentic marriage" between Boeing and the state during a speech in the legislature. It seems more like a support agreement in which Washington taxpayers agree to forgo revenue as a bribe to keep a huge corporation from moving production to a state such as North Carolina with weaker labor laws and no doubt other enticements.

In 2003, Gov. Gary Locke [Unlink] passed a $3.244 billion deal to ensure that Boeing built the 787 Dreamliner at its Everett plant. The new sweetener is designed to entice Boeing to build the new 777X plane in Washington state.
We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams

Offline Atomic Cow

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Re: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2014, 05:19:51 PM »
National unions only care about whatever their political agenda is.  They do not care one bit about their members.

Boeing will eventually leave Washington.  It is only a question of when.
"...And these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange, even to the men who used them."  H. G. Wells, The World Set Free, 1914

"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections." -Lord Acton

Offline rangerrebew

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Re: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2014, 07:02:20 PM »
Unions protect their workers as diligently as the congress defends Americans. :chairbang:
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