The Boeing vs. Machinists Plot Thickens

I don’t know, it all seems so scripted to me. IP woos Boeing on plans to build new 777X, makes known the desire for IAM members at Boeing to gain the work and expresses a clear willingness to “work” with Boeing to achieve that goal. Sporadic talks are held around the country specific to costs, allegedly to enable our research department to prepare our negotiators. After only three or so full days of direct discussion and negotiation, on a very complex deal that will impact and affect related negotiations across the country for years to come, the IP (behind the scenes) demands a substandard, concessionary proposal, to extend a contract already in place with nearly three years of term remaining, be put to a vote. This despite majority opposition from the negotiating committee to do so.

Boeing launches a PR campaign the theme of which questions the very survival of the Puget Sound region, along with tens of thousand of jobs, should the IAM members at Boeing reject the deal. Despite this unremitting and unwarranted pressure from all sides; Boeing, the community, the state, and the International, our members courageously reject a $10,000.00 bribe, not to mention front loaded and short term pension and 401(k) payments, and chose to make a stand for middle class jobs with a fair rate progression and a secure retirement attached.

Like a rejected suitor Boeing plays the field, seducing states across the country with the promise of stable, long term middle class jobs and all they want is a few billion in tax incentives, etc. Now with a reported 22 states in the mix the drum beat and pressure will intensify. Despite the fact that perhaps 75% of those state offers or proposals are more than likely just fluff, add the fact that come close to the 8.7 billion dollar offer passed by WA legislature and that none can match the production and economic value of building the 777X in the Puget Sound region! Boeing will nonetheless nefariously use them to escalate and promote the “threat” of loss to the state, community and our members. Renewed talks break off after what, two days, with the union taking a defiant stance against an apparently improved, not perfect, but rumored to be (significantly) improved proposal without a vote of the membership. The plot thickens!

What comes next? I think the script will see our savior, IP Buffenbarger (who’s groveling at the feet of Boeing created the mess to begin with) swooping in to demand, this time publicly, that the membership have a say in the matter, and be allowed, in the IAM tradition, to vote on Boeing’s “final”, “final” offer. The outcome, unknown.

Despite the complexity and long term effect of this vote, I suspect you will be denied a reasonable period of time to fully analyze the complete terms of the proposed agreement. If I can be of any assistance please don’t hesitate to call on me, I will do whatever I can to assist you. As I do not, as they say, have a dog in this fight, it would be unfair for me to form an opinion or support a yes or no vote, that decision is rightly vested with the membership of DL 751. I can only wish you all Godspeed in your deliberations in the days to come and may the will of the majority prevail.

In Unity,
Jay Cronk

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Boeing Machinist’s PR Nightmare

Hello everyone,

From a PR perspective Boeing has created a situation where they can place blame on both sides regardless of the outcome. The Union for rejecting the unreasonable proposals offered by Boeing and the States for not meeting the demands set forth in the criteria for acceptance i.e. the States proposals fall short of our demands so we have no choice but to go back and deal with an unreasonable Union. They’ve also created an environment of fear, we know that fear drives the people in this great country to make poor decisions. It’s a well organized PR initiative and our current Union leaders are not prepared to defend such an attack.

As I listen to the sticking points of the negotiation the “Pension” looks to be the biggest issue on the table. The Union should consider getting out in front and starting a different conversation in the media and our members. Here were my thoughts..

Pension and Trust:

The Boeing Company and the Union have struggled the past 20 years to build Trust. We can all accept Trust is fundamental in any discussion, either with a spouse, friend, co-worker or in the this case a Union Leader and a President. Washington State and the Union have already been mislead once when a portion of the 787 moved to South Caroline. These actions erode trust and make it difficult to have open and honest dialogue. Over time, Union members have lost Trust in the Boeing Company.

There is however an organization members Trust even less than the Boeing Company and that is “Wall Street”. To suggest to these hard working people they place their retirement in the hands of Wall Street bankers is absurd. How in good faith can the Boeing Company ask it’s workforce to Trust those that just about bankrupt the Country. The current pension plan provides protections from abuse and a guarantee of a modest retirement. Some security in a very unstable economy.

If a 401K program is so great for our members why not allow the members the option to choose which retirement plan they would prefer. Build an optional retirement program that Union members can select like we do with our health coverage instead of bullying us into accepting a retirement package we feel we can’t Trust to be their when we retire.

Market Share and Ray Conner:

The Boeing Company continues to position the Union as the main reason for the Company losing market share to Airbus. The fact that Boeing has been losing market share for some time is widely known. Boeing is claiming they need to cut costs to stay competitive, at time when they are posting record profits. They point their finger at the Union ,claiming we are the reason for their troubles. They site an unstable workforce as an issue but we have not had a strike for almost 6 years and by the time our current contract expires we will have 9 strike free years. So here is a call out to Mr. Conner. We produce the highest quality aircraft in the world at a competitive price. We provide the best service in the industry. We employ the best workforce in the world. Mr. Conner if you can’t sell against Airbus, if you can’t “win” against Airbus with the portfolio of products we deliver to the market place, you should look for a different job and we might consider recruiting your counterpart from Airbus. If we’re losing market share it’s not because of the Union, it’s because of your lack of core competency to get the job done. Now, we can continue to point fingers or we can come together and have solution based discussions that move us closer to our common goals. We can partner to find solutions and establish Trust along the way.

Airbus:

If Boeing won’t support and respect it’s workforce maybe someone else will. We might consider placing an add asking Airbus to come to Seattle, we have a workforce waiting and willing to support any Company willing to maintain our current standard of living which must include a Pension. If the Boeing Company won’t show loyalty to it’s workforce we will no longer show loyalty to the Boeing Company..

Regards,
Darrell Martin

Post Interview Journal November 21,2013

On Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, I was interviewed by Maria La Ganga of the LA TIMES. Her questions inspired the journal entry below:

Post Interview thoughts:

People say I’m courageous and brave, however that is not how I feel. I feel afraid, the kind of fear you feel when every muscle in your body tightens. My upper traps feel like knotted rocks. It’s hard to breathe. My breathing is tense and shallow. It takes effort to push the wall of my chest up to take a breath. Sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating. My face feels hot and my cheeks flushed. There is a lump that sits in my throat. I swallow trying to push it away yet it remains. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced this kind of fear so I know I can handle it. It’s worth it. There is so much at stake! Not doing or saying anything will only result in more of the same. Apathy is our worst enemy. Sitting quietly is what they want us to do. It gives them the upper hand, only their message is heard. They are anything but quiet. They are in attack mode. Their weapons are the media, email, printed handouts and videos. They bombard us with their heavy artillery in the days prior to the vote .We are sent emails and handouts telling why their proposal is so great. We watch mandatory videos. They talk to the media and local government. The message is always the same. Vote YES or We will leave and it will be your fault. Local headlines make it clear, Boeing Exec Urges Machinists to Vote Yes or Landing the 777x Dependent on Machinist Vote. Now the seed has been planted. The local government, media and citizens are watered. When we vote no they lash out, telling us we are greedy, selfish, whiners. They holler, “It’s all your fault Boeing might leave!” “way to go Machinist’s you just cost us thousands of jobs.” It’s hard for them to see and hear our side; most of them have never walked in our shoes. All they hear is the deafening sound of our opponents. But we stand strong regardless. We know Why we voted NO. Most of them think it’s all about money but we are here to tell you it is so much more complex than that. Many of us are second and third generation employees. A lot of us grew up in Boeing homes. Strong values instilled within us at early ages. Values such as integrity, loyalty, and solidarity. Many of us watched our fathers and grandfathers walk picket lines to preserve benefits such as pensions, sick leave, bereavement and step progression. We watched them fight to retain benefits for New Hires and Retirees, they sat in the cold, ate PB&J, and went without pay, sometimes for months at a time to fight for benefits for people who no longer worked there or had not yet been hired. A lot of them could not afford to not be working, bills were left unpaid, and lights shut off. But they knew what they were fighting for was worth it.  They taught us to stand united, to fight for those whose cannot fight for themselves and to not cave under the pressure of criticism. Our values are deeply ingrained. At Boeing there are many of us, we are in every shop, in every office. There are not many places you can go where there is not at least one or two of us who have family ties. In my area I can count at least 6. Each of us has a branch some only have one but others have up to 8. You can see this pattern repeated all over the Puget Sound. People can’t understand why we said, no. We can’t understand how they can expect us to say yes. Would they sell out their own families? Do we live in a society where apathy is preferred over integrity? Do you want us to say, “Oh, it’s going to happen eventually so we might as well let it”? Have we entered an era where we are expected to give Corporate America everything it wants whenever they demand it? Is it now OK for any employer to simply demand that you accept reduced compensation for the work you perform? Just because they (as Mr. Conner put it) want to WIN?! ?! Perhaps Mr. Conner and Charlie Sheen are friends.

You asked me if I was angry at Boeing. While I cannot say that I am angry at Boeing because I believe that the machinists, engineers, and salaried employees of the Pacific Northwest are the true heart of Boeing. I can say that I am angry, disappointed and disheartened with the corporate entities of the Boeing Company. They have proven they have little to no regard for their employees. They have gone out of their way to create a negative public opinion for IAM machinists in an attempt to WIN and be number one over Airbus at the expense of their employees. They say it was so that they could “Stay Competitive” and that our competitor wants to take our share of the market. Then only a few days after we vote NO they land the biggest orders in the history of the company. In addition to the largest order in history they outsold their competitors more than double! I don’t know about the rest of my fellow IAM members but I would have felt like a total fool if I would have caved and said yes. There is a disconnect. You tell the media you have market leading pay and compensation but you are the only one in your class .Who else sells wide-bodied aircraft other than you? Comparing our compensation package to Airbus’s is apple and oranges. They are a foreign company. The vacation and health care compensation is vastly different due to those two facts. You cannot compare our compensation package to Airbus or the smaller distributors who supply our parts .How is selling a small sub assembly comparable to a wide bodied jetliner? So I ask again who exactly are the people you are comparing our market leading compensation too? As far as I can see we are in a unique class of our own.

You asked me why I wrote the letter. My hope in writing the letter was to get them to see us as people and not just another BEMS ID. It is too easy for them to just look at a number and not see the humanity behind it. I wanted to make it difficult for them to only see a number.

In the days since my letter was posted on the Everett Heralds Website I have received numerous letters from Boeing Employee’s (IAM and SPEEA) from every site in the Puget Sound and Portland. All have been resoundingly supportive and positive. Their message is clear they feel betrayed by Boeing and Union leadership. So many of them have sacrificed through years for Boeing, Working mandatory 10-12 hour days and weekends. A lot of us remember our parents always working, not being available on weekends or special events and now as adults many of us are doing the same. Many of us have sacrificed our bodies suffered from repetitive use injuries or chemical sensitivity due to years of exposure. We have endured surgeries and rehabilitation.  But you still do not think we are worth the compensation we currently receive. You want to reduce it so you can say you’re WINNING. Tell us Mr. Conner are you willing to reduce your salary and the salaries of all your coworkers in the interest of winning?

Our union leadership may have sent us confusing mixed messages but do not be fooled we are not weak! In fact we are stronger! In the midst of confusion, fear and uncertainty we stood as one united in solidarity. Our message was clear   we said NO! No, we will not tolerate Ultimatums. No, we will not stand by and be bullied. No, we will not sell out our parents, children or fellow IAM brothers and sisters past, present or future!

 

Others think this was all about money, they are blind the consequences of saying yes. A yes vote would have permanently weakened the collective bargaining process and power not only for IAM members but for SPEEA and possibly every union in the region, sending the message to Boeing and other employers that it is acceptable to toss Ultimatums at employees whenever they please with the expectation of Yes. Voting yes damages the solidarity of our union, it cripples our unity, and it divides us! Collective Bargaining happens when two parties work together! Boeing telling us to take it or leave without allowing us to respond with counter offers leaves us no choice but to say NO. Headlines read, Boeing and Union reach agreement. How can Boeing and the union be in mutual agreement when IAM membership is left out of the process? It seems to me that our union officials need to start communicating with the rank and file members so that Boeing and IAM Membership (the true heart of the union) can reach a mutual agreement.

Do not misunderstand us; we do not see our vote of NO as a victory over Boeing leadership. We should have NEVER been placed in this position to begin with! Our contract is not due to expire for 3 more years. Boeing leadership knew they would be securing orders at the recent airshow and attempted to strong arm us into a bad deal before record orders were announced.

We do not know what the future holds for us. We do not know if we will be building the 777x. We are ready, willing, and already trained for the challenge! We are the BEST, most qualified workforce for the job! What other region can say they have 2 and 3 generations of qualified builders working together to build excellence? Only the Puget Sound…

You may ask me what I am afraid of …there is a lot to lose. Will speaking out and standing up for myself and my fellow IAM member get me into trouble? Will I have a job a few years from now? Will I be able to retire from this great company with dignity? Or will I be forced find work as a senior? Will the economy in my region collapse because the business that has supported it for 4-5 generations decided to pack up and move out in the interest of winning?

 

Shannon Ryker

Journal Entry

November 21, 2013

To our brothers and sister in South Carolina:

Today you stand unprotected, there is nothing protecting your wages, pension or job security. Boeing leadership has the ability to dictate changes to your pay and benefits as they please without a vote or input from you. They have proven that wages are still not secure. They will reduce and eliminate pay and benefits in the interest of WINNING!

Boeing Leadership has used you as a weapon against us; they have made it their mission to segregate us. They preach to us about team building and partnership yet they are the ones driving the wedge between us.  You are the threat they hang over our heads.

They want us to be foes but I say JOIN US! You are already distant cousins in our Boeing family. Our distance and separation is hurting us and its hurting you. Join our IAM family, come stand under our umbrella of protection, as our brothers and sisters!  ! Even in the midst of leadership turmoil, we stand strong and united in solidarity! Send Boeing a message …tell them you value humanity and unity over WINNING!