NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Anguished Machinists narrowly vote to accept Boeing’s most recent offer on 777X work

Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Machin­ists and Aero­space Work­ers have vot­ed by a nar­row mar­gin to accept the terms of The Boe­ing Com­pa­ny’s most recent con­tract exten­sion offi­cer, IAM lead­ers announced tonight in Everett.

By a vote of 51% to 49%, the union agreed to Boe­ing’s terms, with many mem­bers telling reporters and writ­ing on social media sites that they had reluc­tant­ly vot­ed yes. Oth­ers vot­ed no for a sec­ond time, argu­ing that Boe­ing had­n’t real­ly improved its offer since its ear­li­er pro­pos­al to land the 777X work was reject­ed by a two-to-one mar­gin. The lead­er­ship of Lodge 751 did not feel the revised offer mer­it­ed con­sid­er­a­tion, but they were over­ruled by the lead­er­ship at the inter­na­tion­al lev­el, and a vote on the revised offer was sched­uled for today.

“Our mem­bers have spo­ken and this is the course we’ll take,” said Tom Wrob­lews­ki, the pres­i­dent of Machin­ists Union Dis­trict Lodge 751. “All along we knew that our mem­bers want­ed to build the 777X, and that it was in Boeing’s best inter­est to have them do it.. We rec­om­mend­ed that our mem­bers reject the offer because we felt that the cost was too high, in terms of our lost pen­sions and the thou­sands of dol­lars in addi­tion­al health care costs we’ll have to pay each year.

“Now, it’s up to all of us now to pull togeth­er to make this air­plane pro­gram suc­cess­ful. I’m con­fi­dent we will do that, because as we’ve said all along, this is the most-skilled aero­space work­force in the world.”

Wrob­lews­ki reit­er­at­ed that point in an email to mem­bers.

Tonight our mem­bers vot­ed to accept Boeing’s pro­pos­al of an eight-year con­tract with an 51% yes vote. Our mem­bers have spo­ken and this is the course we will take.

No mem­ber liked this vote or the posi­tion we were put in by the Com­pa­ny. Nor was it an easy vote for any­one to cast.

We faced tremen­dous pres­sure from every source imag­in­able in decid­ing how to vote today. Politi­cians, the media and oth­ers who had no right to get into our busi­ness, were aligned against us and did their best to influ­ence your vote.

This deci­sion means Boe­ing will stop seek­ing alter­nate sites for its 777X air­craft pro­gram. Our goal in the com­ing years will be to ensure Boe­ing lives up to its com­mit­ments to its work­force and tru­ly keeps jobs in Wash­ing­ton State.

There has been a lot of frus­tra­tion and ten­sion over the last two months. But now the vote is over, and we must unite for our future. It is up to all of us now to pull togeth­er to make this air­plane pro­gram suc­cess­ful.

“Tonight, Wash­ing­ton state secured its future as the aero­space cap­i­tal of the world,” said Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee in a state­ment. “To make that hap­pen, the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Machin­ists Dis­trict 751 took a hard vote that demands the respect of all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans who will ben­e­fit from hav­ing Boe­ing build the 777X here.”

He went on to say:

The Machin­ists are our friends, our fam­i­lies, neigh­bors, the best aero­space work­ers in the world and peo­ple who care deeply about their com­mu­ni­ties well beyond the walls of the Boe­ing plant. I want to thank each Machin­ist, no mat­ter how they vot­ed tonight.

With the work the Leg­is­la­ture did in Novem­ber and tonight’s vote, Wash­ing­ton State has shown it is the only place to build this next gen­er­a­tion jet­lin­er. That leg­is­la­tion has impor­tant pro­tec­tions for tax­pay­ers and for Machin­ists and we will make sure the com­pa­ny keeps its com­mit­ment and that these jobs remain in Wash­ing­ton State for the life of the air­plane.

We have a his­to­ry of inno­va­tion in our state that has got­ten us to this point today and will chart our future for decades to come.

Fab­ri­ca­tion of the car­bon fiber wing gives us a path to the fore­front of the next gen­er­a­tion of aero­space man­u­fac­tur­ing and the start of a new indus­try for our state.

Tonight, Wash­ing­ton showed the world we can design our future. We look for­ward to see­ing the jet­lin­er of the future take off and help us build a Wash­ing­ton that works for every­one.

We will not be cel­e­brat­ing the out­come of tonight’s vote, unlike some local polit­i­cal lead­ers who have essen­tial­ly been act­ing as tax­pay­er-paid lob­by­ists for Boe­ing. Our broth­ers and sis­ters in the Machin­ists are giv­ing up a lot of hard-won gains, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to deferred pay, in order to secure the 777x work on Boe­ing’s terms. The anguished deci­sion they made is not some­thing we rejoice in, or con­demn. We respect that it was a tough vote either way, and we stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with all the mem­bers of Lodge 751, regard­less of how they vot­ed.

The Machin­ists were under a tremen­dous amount of pres­sure to cave to Boe­ing… so much so that in the wake of Boe­ing’s dec­la­ra­tion that it was done nego­ti­at­ing, a seri­ous inter­nal rift devel­oped between Lodge 751 and the Inter­na­tion­al lead­er­ship, with the Inter­na­tion­al over­rul­ing Lodge 751 and order­ing a new vote.

It’s worth not­ing that the Machin­ists are a democ­ra­cy and as such, major­i­ty rule pre­vails. Under Tim Eyman’s rules, Boe­ing’s sup­pos­ed­ly “best and final” offer would have been resound­ing­ly reject­ed tonight. Boe­ing pur­ports to be a democ­ra­cy also, but in real­i­ty, its board answers to the com­pa­ny’s well-paid exec­u­tives, and the share­hold­ers do what the board rec­om­mends.

Boe­ing Com­mer­cial Air­planes Pres­i­dent and CEO Ray Con­ner applaud­ed the vote.

“Thanks to this vote by our employ­ees, the future of Boe­ing in the Puget Sound region has nev­er looked brighter,” Con­ner said in a state­ment. “We’re proud to say that togeth­er, we’ll build the world’s next great airplane—the 777X and its new wing – right here. This will put our work­force on the cut­ting edge of com­pos­ite tech­nol­o­gy, while sus­tain­ing thou­sands of local jobs for years to come.”

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One Comment

  1. Did the gov­er­nor act in the best inter­ests of the state or did he desert his con­stituen­cy. It’s a hard ques­tion for me to answer. Had McKen­na won, it would have been easy show anger toward Olympia.

    # by Mike Barer :: January 4th, 2014 at 5:46 PM