So, how pissed is the Machinists union over the pressure they got from elected officials—especially Dems—to roll over and accede to the contract concessions demanded by Boeing? Pissed enough to rescind their endorsement of Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA2). In a press release issued today, Washington Machinists Council president Dan Morgan writes:
“On Dec. 13, 2013, U.S. Rep. Larsen issued a press release calling on Machinists Union leaders to ‘let their members vote on the contract offer from Boeing.’ Larsen sided with Boeing, stating, ‘It is my assessment that Boeing needs to control its costs so it can continue to lead in an increasingly competitive environment.’
“Congressman Larsen needs to understand he was elected to represent his district in the U.S. House of Representatives, not as the union president or Boeing’s chief negotiator. Larsen interfered with the IAM in its efforts to secure the best outcome for its members working at Boeing. By pressing for a vote, Larsen helped Boeing strip away pensions and health care benefits. While we don’t expect the Congressman to side with us, Boeing doesn’t need Larsen’s help to drive down wages and benefits for working families.
“The Machinists Union has had a good working relationship with Representative Larsen, but we cannot endorse a candidate who interferes with our collective bargaining processes.”
The Machinists' anger is both understandable and justified. By publicly pressuring union members to vote yes on the contract, our political elite helped undermine what leverage the union had in negotiations, giving Boeing an even stronger hand. It was an arguably selfish action that appeared to come more from our elected officials' concern for their own job security than from concern for Boeing workers.
And it's not like Congressman Larsen entirely disagrees. I emailed him for comment and got the following response:
“I understand their anger, accept and respect their decision, and still believe that Boeing will get a 777X built by the best aerospace workforce in the world, the Machinists of Puget Sound.”