2013 Local Labor News

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Published in the December 2013 Aero Mechanic

'Nothing Fair or Right' About Boeing Demands

by Jeff Johnson
President, Washington State Labor Council

jeff-johnson-president-wa-state-labor-councilIn 2011, just two years ago, Machinists District 751 members at The Boeing Co. voted to ratify a long-term five-year contract that was an extension of their existing contract. They did so at the company’s request and with the company’s promise of securing long-term Boeing production work. That 2011 contract extension benefited both the company and the Machinists, secured the 737 MAX work in Washington state, and gave the company what they said they were looking for: labor stability and peace.

Now the company has returned and asked to extend the contract again. The company is insisting that, in order to secure 777X manufacturing and assembly work in Washington state, Machinists must again re-open their contract that doesn’t expire until 2016. But this time, it’s clear this is not about labor stability. It’s about cutting compensation. Boeing is demanding unprecedented takeaways from their employees at a time when the company is enjoying record profits, sales, and executive bonus packages.

The elected membership representatives of Machinists District 751 strongly believe that these takeaways are excessive and unnecessary. This is not a case of making sacrifices to see a company through tough times. This is a case of a company that is flush with cash, orders and profits not only refusing to maintain its workforce’s existing wages and benefits, but also demanding that they give up their pensions under the threat of moving work elsewhere. Read entire article

Published on the Puget Sound Business Journal website July 16, 2013

Chasing South Carolina: For Boeing and Washington state, it's a race to the bottom

By Stan Sorscher
Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA)

This guest column was written in response to "The South is winning," a three-story package by aerospace reporter Steve Wilhelm, published July 5.

Washington state has a world-class aerospace cluster, employing more than 130,000 people making products the rest of the world wants to buy. In 2003, Boeing cast a chill on the state, moving its headquarters to Chicago. In 2009, the chill deepened with the decision to assemble some 787s in South Carolina.

This trend continues with recent announcements to move engineering work to Southern California, start an engineering center in South Carolina and transfer computing and pilot training work, too.

One interpretation is that Boeing is so averse to unions that it will move to any region committed to suppressing unions – South Carolina being a case in point.

Some industry observers and elected officials conclude that Washington state should weaken unions, to “compete.” There’s something creepy about this.

Several years ago, this argument came up at an aerospace supplier conference in Lynnwood. A local participant spoke passionately, saying that South Carolina had the right idea, and we needed to weaken worker rights in Washington, starting right now. Read entire article

Thursday, May 23, 2013

WSNA Urges Solidarity During Negotiations with PeaceHealth

Dear labor friends & community members,

The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) is asking you to stand in solidarity with our registered nurses at PeaceHealth facilities in Washington. We represent three facilities owned by PeaceHealth (two of which are in Southwest WA - PeaceHealth Lower Columbia Region and PeaceHealth Southwest) and are currently in negotiations with our Bellingham local unit. We need your help.

Nurses at PeaceHealth St. Joseph in Bellingham are not being treated fairly during contract negotiations, with management proposing drastic takeaways. Nurses are fighting to have affordable and accessible healthcare, retain sick leave benefits, and have meaningful input on safe staffing and issues surrounding safe patient care. We’re not going to let them fight this battle alone! We are bringing together nurses from PeaceHealth facilities across Washington and Oregon together and we are urging all nurses, labor friends, and community members in the region to join us. This goes beyond one hospital – it’s about the corporatization of our healthcare system. The only way to fight back is to do it TOGETHER! Read entire article

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dark Clouds on the Horizon for Boeing

By Daniel Ferry

When Boeing reported its fourth-quarter and annual results on Jan. 30, CEO James McNerney tried to stress the good news, of which there was plenty: more orders, more deliveries, more revenue, more profit. By the numbers, it was a terrific quarter and year for the jet maker. Most eyes, however, are affixed to two bad news stories. Most obviously, the 787 fleet remains out of commission as investigators try to get to the bottom of their mild "catching-on-fire" problem, while within the company, tensions between management and engineers are coming to a head.

First, the good news. Sales grew 14% for the fourth quarter and 19% for the year, largely driven by increased deliveries of pricey wide-body aircraft. Core operating earnings (adjusted for a tax settlement in 2011) rose 9% and 13% for the quarter and year, respectively. Strong order growth and delivery execution in the year also allowed Boeing to regain the top spot as the largest aircraft manufacturer, which in recent years has been occupied by Airbus.

Boeing also continued the strategically important pivot away from defense and toward commercial airplanes, ending the year with over 60% of revenue coming from commercial planes. Boeing's order backlog continued to grow in 2012, and portends an even stronger reliance on commercial planes: At $319 billion, commercial planes make up over 80% of the $390 billion backlog. Read entire article

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Boeing Rejects SPEEA Offer, Escalating Conflict

SEATTLE – In a move that escalates its mounting problems, The Boeing Company today (Jan. 17) rejected union offers to extend existing contracts and instead gave its “last best and final” offers to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001.

Boeing’s actions reiterate the company’s growing disrespect for the engineers and technical workers who are essential to working issues and restoring confidence in the 787. While the company agreed to extend parts of the existing contracts, the offers put retirement benefits for all 23,000 engineers and technical workers, including retiree medical, at risk. In addition, Boeing’s corporate negotiator said the company will end the pension for future employees.

Although the offers contain improvements, both the Professional and Technical Negotiation Teams unanimously recommend rejection.

“We are profoundly disappointed the company is taking advantage of our good-will offers to push through unwarranted cuts, put existing retiree benefits at risk and eliminate the pension for future employees,” said Ryan Rule, Professional Negotiation Team member.

SPEEA members will vote on the company’s offers in the coming weeks. Ballots are likely to include a request to grant the Professional and Technical Negotiation Teams authority to call a strike. Read entire article

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Posted Friday, January 11, 2013 on www.speea.org

Boeing Still Set On Cuts and Takeaways

The Boeing Company on Jan. 11th presented a partially modified offer to our Prof and Tech Negotiation teams, but was unwilling to provide our team with a complete document. The pieces provided indicate smaller wage and Ed Wells training program cuts than previously proposed. Verbally, the company indicated that they still intend medical cost increases, elimination of the pension for future hires and reduction of growth in retirement benefits for the existing 23,000 engineers and technical workers.

In a departure from longstanding practice, Boeing refused to provide the offer electronically today, but indicated they will do so next week. Working through federal mediators, the company said it needed four days to assemble all the pieces of its offer into a complete document.

While refusing to provide the complete offer to SPEEA, Boeing rejected our request that the parties work privately through the mediators rather than negotiating publicly. The company indicated that they intend to try and bypass the negotiating team by “selling” the offer directly to members. Boeing has already launched an aggressive public relations campaign claiming that Boeing corporate’s proposed cuts are actually “improvements.” Members are encouraged to watch the special 18-minute “Trust Me” video at www.speea.org. Read entire article

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

SPEEA Files New Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charges Against Boeing for Surveillance of Members

EVERETT, WA -- The Boeing Company was charged Wednesday (Jan. 2) with Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) after company personnel photographed members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, marching at its Everett factory to support efforts to negotiate new labor contracts.

The specific charges relates to Boeing taking surveillance photographs of engineers and technical employees marching inside and outside the factory on Dec. 12 and after.  Employer surveillance of union activities has consistently been ruled illegal because it has a tendency to intimidate employees into not exercising their rights to engage in union activities.

SPEEA and Boeing are scheduled to resume negotiations Jan. 9. Federal mediators called for a break in talks before the holidays. The two sides started meeting in April to negotiate new contracts for 23,000 engineers and technical workers. In October, engineers rejected Boeing’s initial offer by 95.5 percent. Technical workers rejected the company’s offer by 97 percent.  Existing contracts expired Nov. 25. Read entire article

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