The IAM Local 751 has voted against the contract extension negotiated with Boeing and which was recently described as “crap” by the Local President involved in negotiating the contract.
The vote was very decisive in rejecting the contract.
There is a strong belief that IAM membership and local leadership believe there is a better deal to be had here and that new negotiations will begin anew. I think there will be political pressure on Boeing to come back to the table. Exceptional political pressure.
Ultimately, Boeing probably will get in a room with the union and it will probably have a serious conversation.
I also think Boeing is going to have serious conversations with a wide variety of interested parties across the country. And I think several of those serious conversations will carry much more enthusiasm on Boeing’s part.
The union wants what it wants and sees givebacks on things like pensions as a step too far. Maybe it is, for them.
But the landscape of the United States is littered with former employees whose unions resisted change too much on things like pensions. And the landscape contains a lot of bodies of union leadership who did not embrace the need for a new model for business between corporations and unions.
I’m looking at you, Tom Wroblewski.
You might get elected for another term by being dramatic and tearing up contracts symbolically while describing them as “crap”. But who do you lead in 8 or 10 years when yet more productions lines have been established in other locations that are Right To Work states?
And, more importantly, what do you say to the machinist who had a great job and who would have still had a superior manufacturing job who now has to go through job retraining and do a service industry job? Or the guy who has to move to California or Alabama or Georgia or Texas to find another aerospace job? Or who just can’t find a job under any circumstances?
How do you justify yourselves to the unions at airlines who’ve given up a whole lot more than you to keep the very airlines who buy your products alive?
It’s notable that it took 2 bankruptcies and one near bankruptcy in the car industry for unions to wake up and make a better deal to keep those jobs in the United States. It was a scary, traumatic time but 5 years later, that industry is healthy, building better cars than they have in 40 years and there are new jobs being created for the first time ever.
No, they aren’t $35/hour jobs that pay full pensions and no cost health benefits while the worker screws a dashboard to a frame. But they’re good, valued jobs that compared favorably anywhere.
There are two messages to unions in the car industry and its recovery. I hope that both are heeded.
There was a time when all of Boeing’s leadership was tied to the Seattle community. That is no longer the case and really hasn’t been the case for a long, long time. If unions believe that Boeing can’t leave, they are only kidding themselves. If unions think that because there has always been a deal, there always will be a deal, they are kidding themselves. It won’t end today or tomorrow but it will end in a decade.
This is a billion dollar business that has to compete in a highly visible, highly competitive global landscape.
So, I’ll offer this final comment to the IAM in the Seattle area for thought and dialogue:
Will the last IAM member in Seattle please turn out the lights when they leave?