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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Labor Leader: "There Is Nothing Fair or Right" About Boeing Contract Offer

Posted by on Wed, Dec 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Washington State Labor Council president Jeff Johnson has issued the following statement regarding Boeing's latest contract offer to machinists:

In 2011, just two years ago, Machinists District 751 members at The Boeing Co. voted to ratify a long-term five-year contract that was an extension of their existing contract. They did so at the company's request and with the company's promise of securing long-term Boeing production work. That 2011 contract extension benefited both the company and the Machinists, secured the 737 MAX work in Washington state, and gave the company what they said they were looking for: labor stability and peace.

Now the company has returned and asked to extend the contract again. The company is insisting that, in order to secure 777X manufacturing and assembly work in Washington state, Machinists must again re-open their contract that doesn't expire until 2016. But this time, it's clear this is not about labor stability. It's about cutting compensation. Boeing is demanding unprecedented takeaways from their employees at a time when the company is enjoying record profits, sales, and executive bonus packages.

The elected membership representatives of Machinists District 751 strongly believe that these takeaways are excessive and unnecessary. This is not a case of making sacrifices to see a company through tough times. This is a case of a company that is flush with cash, orders and profits not only refusing to maintain its workforce's existing wages and benefits, but also demanding that they give up their pensions under the threat of moving work elsewhere.

There is nothing fair or right about what Boeing executives are demanding. In fact, it is a slap in the face of the Washington workforce that builds the best commercial jets in the world, delivers them at unprecedented production rates, and is absolutely driving Boeing profits into uncharted territory. This workforce is the backbone of this company. Its heart and soul. And they haven't asked for anything except to maintain what they have and continue doing the work in which they take so much pride.

It doesn't have to be this way. The Machinists and Boeing each have what each other needs. The Machinists can ensure the quality, on-time delivery and long-term profitability of Boeing by building the 777X right here in Everett. Boeing can maintain its profit margin and the retirement security of Machinists by retaining the existing pension plan that is clearly so precious to their employees

We can do this. We can share in the company's prosperity and make everyone a winner, including customers, shareholders and the communities where we work and live. We owe this much to each other.

Yeah, I know, fuck the machinists, amirite? I don't have a pension, so why should they? They should be grateful just to have a fucking job!

And that's exactly the attitude Boeing executives want you to have as they crush the unions while depositing their giant bonus checks in the bank.


Comments (28) RSS

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How dare the workers think they deserve to share in the good times! When times are bad, obviously the workers should get screwed so the fat cats can keep their yachts, but when times are good, those fat cats are looking to get BIGGER yachts!!
Posted by Hanoumatoi on December 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM · Report this
The company line is they need these savings to remain competitive with what is bearing down on them from Airbus and others. We can argue ourselves blue about how valid that position is or why it somehow appropriate to put this on our backs. The company has leverage the union has a divided stance, local against international for it. This is a high stakes poker game with union members deciding the next play with Jan 03 vote. Is Boeing bluffing? Reject it and find out, accept it we will never know.
Personally I don't trust Boeing not to do something incredibly stupid with the 777X.
Posted by Puget Line on December 25, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
JonnoN 3
"Is Boeing bluffing?"

Personally I don't care if they are or not. I hope the machinists vote no. Packing up and moving isn't as easy or cheap as the suits in Chicago seem to think.
Posted by JonnoN on December 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Go machinists!
Posted by idaho on December 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
For the nth time, no one is "losing their pensions." The accrued pension benefits to-date will remain; future "pension" money, i.e., retirement funds, will be switched to a 401K-type plan, with many investment options available, and with generous matching amounts from Boeing. Why is this so onerous?
Posted by onalki on December 25, 2013 at 11:58 AM · Report this
pragmatic 6
@5 Defined benefit > defined contribution. Nobody's retirement is better served being based on a gambling scheme.
Posted by pragmatic on December 25, 2013 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Airbus opened its A320 line in Alabama for two reasons: it's a right to work state and big tax breaks from Alabama.

If the Europeans can do that, why not Boeing?
Posted by Ex-Boeing on December 25, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
@7 It shouldn't be called 'right to work.' That is right-wing, corporate BS marketing/spin. It should be called 'right to screw workers.' But when cheer-leading the race to the bottom (except for the 1%ers) it makes sense to talk in Orwellian double-speak.
Posted by screed on December 25, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
@9 well 20,000 people applied for the right to work when Airbus started hiring for the first 2000 jobs. Apparently Airbus wasn't too impressed with Puget Sound machinists.
Posted by Ex-Boeing on December 25, 2013 at 1:31 PM · Report this
@9 If people are desperate enough they'll put with almost anything. But I don't want to live in that kind of society. We've fought wars to make this country a more perfect union. If you and your kind keep pushing we can do it again. You guys talk about class warfare all the time. Things keep going the way they are you might just find out what it really looks like.
Posted by screed on December 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
@10 oooh, a revolution! Will it be televised?
Posted by Will u be sleeping in tents & shitting in buckets again? on December 25, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
pragmatic 12
@10 Of course! CNN and Fox would make a killing in ad revenue!
Posted by pragmatic on December 25, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this

what cha gonna do jack? seize the plants, build the next generation of airplanes and take over all the sales contracts ? what?

let's stipulate it's immoral and unfair or even that life itself is unfair. so what. watcha gonna DO folks, it's not enough to whine.
Posted by talk is cheap on December 25, 2013 at 3:03 PM · Report this
unknown_entity 14
@5, companies have a way of making defined contribution plans not pay out. They set dates for the company's contribution to only kick in after 5 years, they reduce the amount they will match, the employer contribution can be withheld during bankruptcy proceedings so that the employee only gets the dollars he put in and the company ends up contributing nothing.
Posted by unknown_entity on December 25, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
@8: Indeed, calling it right to work is ludicrous. What it is is union busting, plain and simple. Preventing organizations of workers from being on an equal footing with the corporations they are trying to negotiate.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on December 25, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Slog's pretty good when Goldy's being the reverse of a Shabbos goy. Except for that execrable Hanukkah poem.
Posted by sarah70 on December 25, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
How about some provisions in the contract that require similar concessions from management salaries? If the compay needs the concessions to remain competitive then proportionate concessions must be required from all of the employees - including management.

I would like to see collective bargaining agreements that link worker total compensation to executive total compensation. The executives can only get a raise when the workers get a raise. Executive pay is cut when worker pay is cut. Not just salary, but all compensation. If income inequity is a problem then let's address it directly.
Posted by Charlie Mas on December 26, 2013 at 4:43 AM · Report this
To #5 - Are you saying that the new 'retirement' plan is more generous than the existing pension scheme? Will it be more stable, will it have tougher guarantees of payouts in retirement, will it benefit the workers more?

Of course the answer is no - and as any of us who've seen our 401ks devastated by wild swings in the stock markets know, a pension with guaranteed retirement income is much better.

For those who don't have a pension (like me) - don't complain that these guys are better off, organize your own workforce to get management to improve your own benefits.
Posted by ECarpenter on December 26, 2013 at 6:41 AM · Report this
Just a friendly reminder that Boeing executives decided to spend $10B in a stock buyback program, increase the dividend 50% all while having three different new planes to pay for.
Posted by Solk512 on December 26, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
sloegin 20
A $10B stock buyback that could be argued is funded by Wa St. taxpayers. But, Boeing has to stay competitive in that world market, all those other airplane manufacturers, etc. R&D! Efficiencies! World Leader! Nimble! Everyone has to pitch in and sacrifice!

All so they get to say thanks and piss away $10B on stock manipulation games.
Posted by sloegin on December 26, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
For the 9th time, if accepted I WOULD loose most of my pension! I am 35 years old and have 3 years with Boeing. Oct 2016 my current pension would be frozen and replaced with a MUCH less valuable 401K style contribution. The pension that I would not be loosing would be worth approx. $570 at age 62. Left alone under the current contract at age 62 it would pay $2730 a month. Stop telling me I would not be loosing my pension!
Posted by chuckles the clown on December 26, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
All right Chuckles.

How about this. You have one of the best blue collar jobs in the region, with superb benefits. NOBODY but crazy socialist freaks like Goldstein feels even a tiny bit sympathetic to your whiny BS.

When Boeing moves to get away from entitled lazy union so called workers, good luck getting a job compensating you half as well.
Posted by Seattleblues on December 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
@10 Present global economic conditions give employers the upper hand. That's just how it is.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM · Report this
@22 Is it possible that Boeing executives are a bit overpaid as well?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 26, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Sure, it's possible. But it's a separate discussion.

At issue is whether the best compensated blue collar workers in this area are acting even in their own best interests chasing their employer off with childish whining.
Posted by Seattleblues on December 26, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ 26
@25: I'm wondering where you get the idea that simply asking to NOT have a pay cut (when the company is making decent profits) constitutes "childish whining".
Actually, I've noticed a pattern here. From issues of labor rights to gay equality, you like to characterize the opposing viewpoint as whining "it's not FAAAIIIIR!" in order to avoid addressing the possibility that, just maybe, what they are protesting isn't actually fair. Chew on that.
Posted by ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ on December 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
@25 When the machinists voted down the first contract offer, Boeing management came back w/ a better offer. Doesn't that prove that the workers made the right decision w/ respect to management's initial offer?

Personally, I don't blame Boeing executives for trying to push down labor costs and maximize profits. I don't blame workers for trying to get the best deal they can for themselves either. Hardball contract negotiations are what allow markets to operate efficiently. Looking at one side as the good guys and the other side as the bad guys is what is childish.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on December 26, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this
You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me 28
Fuck the machinists, amirite? I don't have a pension, so why should they? They should be grateful just to have a fucking job!
Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me on December 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this

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