boeing, the machinists union, the contract, and the horror

FOLLOWING A DECISION by state lawmakers to extend a tax break to the Boeing Company in the amount of $8,000,000,000 (yep, that’s $8 billion), the company then offered their employees a new contract. Last week, Boing’s machinists union overwhelmingly voted down an overwhelmingly unilateral proposal by the company to its workers.

I can feel pride in Boeing’s workers and the magnificent machines they manufacture, without feeling pride in Boeing.

While the proposed contract had numerous give-backs from the union, it also ensured that the CEO would earn approximately $250,000 a month upon retirement. I suppose the quid pro quo here was that the poor dear didn’t get $300,000 per month . . .

The passages quoted below are from an editorial in today’s Seattle Times (November 21, 2013, page A13) titled “Stop doubling down on Boeing with the tax breaks” by guest columnist Brendan Williams, an attorney in Olympia and former 22nd Legislative District state representative from 2005 to 2011.

“Concern for Boeing subsumes all other considerations. No similar state policy accommodation is made elsewhere. Consider seniors and kids. Since 2003, for example, dozens of long-term care facilities have gone broke.

The state Medicaid reimbursement for more than 10,000 nursing-home patients is fixed to 2007 costs through at least July 1, 2015. And yet a state that saved $31 million—losing as much in federal funds—by making this cut can, in a panic, come up with $11 million for new aerospace-oriented training?

The Legislature’s paramount duty is funding K-12 education, not responding to every threat from Boeing’s massively compensated Chicago executives. Yet it took a Washington Supreme Court decision to compel movement toward fulfilling this duty. And we are far short of where we need to be.

I can feel pride in Boeing’s workers and the magnificent machines they manufacture, without feeling pride in Boeing. Loyalty should run both ways.”

The sunny funny Pacific Northwest

Back to me: when I moved from the dust storms and Valley Fever and monsoon season of the Phoenix, Arizona, area (“The horror. The horror . . .”) to the verdancy of the Pacific Northwest in the late ’80s, I was introduced to the machinations of the Boeing company via a report on the local radio.

The host stated that at that moment, Boeing was in arrears in back taxes to the state of Washington, King County, and city of Seattle a total of $800,000,000!

One of the first friends that I made here, Michael McIntyre, was a member of Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEAA) and worked for Boeing. I told him I was staggered that the powers-that-be would allow this to occur. He, of course, defended Boeing for the jobs that they created.

I argued that they should be given an ultimatum: pay their taxes or face foreclosure. As this was a time when the japanese were on a roll (as were the French with the Concorde), I said we could get the Japanese to pay the back taxes, take over he property, buildings, and equipment, and have everybody back to work.

Plus there would be nearly a billion dollars to create NEW jobs. This went over like the proverbial lead zeppelin.

Now I know I simplify the debate, but there is no question that Boeing holds all of the cards and plays cutthroat with no concern for the collateral damage done. I merely suggest that there are alternatives to allowing a bully to bully . . .