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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Boeing Negotiates with Machinists After Refusing to Negotiate with Machinists

Posted by on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Remember how a couple weeks ago Boeing's machinists rejected the company's last best only contract offer to build the new 777X in Everett, and Boeing announced that it would not return to the negotiating table, and instead request bids from other (mostly non-union) regions? And remember how all the serious people who've never lifted a wrench in their lives yet know what's good for Boeing machinists better than Boeing machinists do, sighed in unison that even a job with lower pay and no pension is better than no job at all, and then cursed the short sightedness of union members for not caving to the company's demands?

Yeah, well, Boeing is back at the negotiating table after all, because maybe the machinists aren't as stupid as the serious people presume them to be. Because maybe Puget Sound Boeing workers have a little leverage being the best-trained and most productive aerospace workforce in the world, working at existing facilities that would take billions of dollars and several years to reproduce elsewhere? And maybe they understand Boeing better than casual outside observers do, no matter how serious these observers believe themselves to be?

Not saying that this is a done deal or anything. Boeing and the machinists still might not be able to come to terms. But this idea that the machinists were powerless to do anything but accept management's initial offer was just plain stupid. And suicidal from the perspective of what's left of our nation's labor movement.


Comments (21) RSS

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Looking For a Better Read 1
Inslee was the most guilty in all of this. I never could understand why he thought it was such a good idea to push the union to accept Boeing's offer, rather than sitting on the sideline and allowing the two to duke it out, then swooping in to mediate an agreement at a later date. As it now stands, he has no credibility with the union - who supported him in great force - at all.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on December 12, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 2
obviously, kshama sawant scared the crap out of boeing with that "seize the means of production" speech!
Posted by Max Solomon on December 12, 2013 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 3
Boeing's leverage rapidly disappeared when their "demand letter" became public. They are asking for a state to recreate: Boeing, Paine & SeaTac airports; Ports of Everett, Seattle, Tacoma & Olympia; BNSF rail lines; and a 470 million cubic foot assembly plant. And that's even before they demand billions in tax breaks. There's not a whole lot of places that can come up with that in 18 months.
Posted by Sir Vic on December 12, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Goldy, so Boeing went to the union or did the union go to Boeing? There is a big difference.
Posted by nador on December 12, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
Let's also not forget the disaster that Boeing's most recent foray into this area has been for the company. The Charleston SC 787 facility is seriously behind on its production quotas and shows absolutely no signs of reaching, let alone exceeding those goals, any time in the near future. leaving the Machinists in Everett the unenviable task of trying to pick up the slack - which they've done to some extent. I seriously doubt management is in any way enthusiastic about the prospects of repeating that debacle.

Still, maybe the suits in Chicago thought they could leverage more concessions out of the IAM here, if they threatened to go elsewhere to produce the 777X, but seriously, where are they going to find the combination of infrastructure and workforce capable of doing so successfully anywhere else? What few locations might have been able to do this a decade ago (Downy, CA & St. Louis, MO come most immediately to-mind), have seen aerospace work diminish to the point where physical plants, if they even still exist, would require billions of dollars in upgrades and retooling. Additionally, the workforce that was present has subsequently dwindled away as workers moved to other geographic areas, or retrained into new industries.

So, while Boeing management would no doubt LOVE to relocate this plant, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the offers presented by other states don't come anywhere close to matching what is already available here in terms of workers & facilities; and I'll bet the Machinists are aware of this as well.
Posted by COMTE on December 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM · Report this
thats what detroit said back in the 70s.......
Posted by that worked out well..... on December 12, 2013 at 10:11 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 7

Biggest pressure is going to come from China.

We can delude ourselves into any fantasy we want, but they are going to demand that Boeing and Airbus assemble there or they will build their own planes. And long term, they will design and build their own planes which will be cheaper than all others.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on December 12, 2013 at 10:16 AM · Report this
Goldy 8
@4 No, there's not a big difference. The Machinists were always willing to negotiate. It was Boeing who said it wouldn't reopen negotiations until the current contract expires in two years. Now Boeing has backtracked.
Posted by Goldy on December 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
@ 4, no there isn't. They're sitting down together and negotiating. That's what's important, no the identity of the side that called the meeting.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 12, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 10
* not the identity...
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM · Report this
seatackled 11

Not any substantive difference. Wasn't the original offer take it or leave it? So whoever approached whomever, Boeing has blinked.
Posted by seatackled on December 12, 2013 at 10:24 AM · Report this
@3 - What about low price of power for the foreseeable future?
Posted by anon1256 on December 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Goldy, Matt, Seatackled: The impression is that the union went back to Boeing and begged them to come back to the table. Sure, Boeing backtracked on what they said and that might be due to Inslee's efforts, but it appears that the union is scared that Boeing was going to follow through on the promise to not negotiate for 2 years. That is totally different than Boeing approaching the union and saying "hey, let's talk, we may have fucked up. We expected you to cave to our demands."
Posted by nador on December 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM · Report this
@13 You aren't making any sense at all. The union was always willing to bargain, so what actions could they take to that end to facilitate the negotiations they want without looking like they're "begging"?

I mean shit, this is some serious concern trolling here.
Posted by Solk512 on December 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Report this
MrBaker 15
@5, that's pretty much it.
Now, put that in the timeline of Boeing's deadline for getting the replies for the RFQ's.
Know that anywhere it's assembled will require new and exciting tooling, the question is if the given state has an R&D tax break on buying/making exotic wing making machines?

IMO, the redder states have low wages and usually lower tax structures, that means less skilled workers and a tax structure that likely could not absorb bending its existing tax structure to match what Washington state has contorted over the past few decades. It's a hell of a lift in a special session.

People need to let go of what they imagine SC is, it was good money after bad, and a proving ground that proved more than a few people in Boeing management (and some rabid stockholders) wrong. The question becomes, for them, can they get over being proven wrong, that you can't just disassociate major sections, snap them together in a non-union utopia, and expect workers that have zero incentive to out perform anybody outside of their factory to be anywhere near as productive as people that have for generations the incentive to move into higher graded labor positions, and out perform Douglas, Lockheed, etc.

The sad part is that they have already decided to spread the engineering around, what could possibly go wrong?

Where are we?
IAM called their bluff.
Boeing, again, went out to find something equal to what they have in Everett so they could later leverage that other place against Washington state and the IAM in the future. That's what this is always about.
The problem is that their RFQ is now public and can be quantified.
The responses from other states can be estimated.
The the date to submit proposals has passed.
The margins are known now.
If the IAM can give Boeing management a way out of a prison of their own making, save face, claim some symbolic victory, then the company can make an economic decision based on stability and productivity, rather than an emotional decision based on how they don't like the idea of unions (no matter how much money those unions have made the company).
Posted by MrBaker on December 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
MrBaker 16
@13, that's just not very well thought out. If somebody got that impression then they are not aware of the deadline passing for states to submit offers, the nature of those offers, and the union proposing a counter offer with the negotiation constraints shifted off the union and onto Boeing.

The IAM now has known elements and a closed date Boeing has boxed itself in with.
Posted by MrBaker on December 12, 2013 at 12:34 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
@ 13, no such impression was made by the linked article. It didn't report at all about who approached whom, never mind how they felt about making it. You're making that up.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 12, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
AFinch 18
@15 - I like how you frame it.

This is definitely about the IAM calling Boeing's bluff and Boeing holding only a pair to the union's three.

@6 - Detroit's problem wasn't the unions - it was the crap cars they designed and produced - that's a management failure - and the kind of penny-wise-pound-foolish thinking that drove those management decisions is exactly the one driving production to a place like SC.
Posted by AFinch on December 12, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
@2 FTW
Posted by cracked on December 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
@18 Exactly. There are plenty of unionized car makers that were doing just fine.
Posted by Solk512 on December 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
#2 I guarantee you Sawant didn't even ruffle the feathers of Boeing. She is a joke.
Posted by GetMeOutOfThisLibtardHell on December 12, 2013 at 7:27 PM · Report this

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