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

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 minutes.

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 ma­chin­ist’s union over­whelm­ingly voted down an over­whelm­ingly uni­lat­eral pro­posal by the com­pany to its workers.

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 the 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 . . .


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