Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   1 comment

Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

With a Little Help From Their Friends, Boeing Forces Union Workers to Sacrifice Pensions for Profit's Sake

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Funny 1  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 2/25/14

- Advertisement -
By Keyan Bliss

In January, the Boeing Corporation bullied the members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to accept a new contract forcing them to give up hard-won pensions, dismantle their health care, and reduce their wages. The effort to take away essential benefits from Washington workers was a well-calculated scheme by the world's largest airplane manufacturer. By exploiting bad economic conditions, it manipulated opportunistic politicians and even the union's own leadership in order to pressure workers to accept these concessions.

(image by Laura Bonham)   DMCA
Boeing demanded the cuts to retirement and healthcare benefits in its initial offer to extend its current contract with organized labor in the Puget Sound region. This new contract will keep IAM workers' current pensions frozen while ending their defined-benefit plan and replacing it with a 401k plan, a trend among Fortune 100 companies looking to reduce benefit costs. The contract would allow the corporation to gut and/or replace health plans previously negotiated before they are taxed under the Affordable Care Act in 2018. It would also limit wage increases to one percent every other year with annual cost-of-living adjustments. If this were not enough, IAM workers would be barred from striking until the new contract expires in 2024.

There is no financial imperative for the aerospace-defense corporation to demand such sacrifices from their workers. In fact, Boeing is expected to exceed $4.7 billion in profits in 2013, and that's after increasing its dividends by $2 billion and repurchasing $10 billion in from shareholders. Local labor unions refused to sacrifice hard-won pensions during such times and rejected the contract in November by a margin of 2-to-1. 
- Advertisement -

Rather than renegotiate its offer, Boeing threatened to leave its home in the Puget Sound all together and immediately solicited bids from 22 states desperate to secure thousands of quality manufacturing jobs. Not satisfied with this leverage, Boeing initiated a relentless public-relations campaign targeting Boeing workers in Seattle newspapers, radio advertisements, and even flyers distributed at local factories  telling workers they would lose their jobs for refusing the corporate offer. 

Local and national politicians, including Washington Governor Jay Inslee and US Representative Rick Larsen, publicly pressured their constituent workers to accept Boeing's contract. It makes sense given more than $15 million in lobbying and over $1 million in direct contributions the corporation has spent influencing politicians in 2013. In fact, it likely helped convince Washington state lawmakers to award nearly $9 billion dollars in tax incentives exclusively to Boeing, the largest state-based tax subsidy in American history

- Advertisement -
Local union leaders were able to withstand the enormous pressure, but could not predict their national union leadership would sabotage their efforts. IAM President Tom Buffenbarger overruled the objections from local union leaders and hastily ordered a second vote during their members' holiday season. This resulted in more than 8000 of its 31,000 eligible members not participating in the second vote, which passed by narrow margin of 600 votes. Despite exposing a deep rift among its members, the national leadership has refused to allow a recount or a new vote on a contract approved by the smallest majority in the union's history.

When a profitable corporation like Boeing can win major benefit concessions from organized labor, it sets a dangerous precedent that corporations no longer need to be in financial trouble to justify them. There is no limit to the amount of leverage our corporate plutocrats will use to squeeze the working class of essential benefits for the sake of a little extra profit. Now more than ever, the We the People Amendment is needed to establish that money is not protected speech and that constitutional liberties belong exclusively to real people, and not the corporate entities we create. As we add another sad chapter to the history of the labor movement, we need to stand together with our fellow laborers to demand a real democracy, free of the strings corporations have pulled for more than a century.

Keyan Bliss is a graduate of Indiana University, where he majored in political science. He is currently a field organizer and communications intern for the Move to Amend Coalition.

The Move to Amend Coalition is a grassroots campaign to amend the Constitution to state that artificial entities such as corporations, unions, and non-profits do not have inherent rights under the Constitution, and that money is not free speech so (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Follow the Trillions (If You Can)

SCOTUS has gone rogue

Coming to a City Near You: Oligarchy, Detroit Style

Monsanto Corporation Claims Corporate Personhood Trumps Vermonters' Right to Require Labeling

A Growing Peoples Movement, Despite the Media Blackout

Private Spooks and Corporate Persons: The American Experiment Takes a Hit


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
This story so clearly demonstrates why we need to... by Move to Amend on Tuesday, Feb 25, 2014 at 6:00:02 AM