I have to wonder why the leadership of the Machinists union would be surprised if Boeing were to move its production elsewhere. Considering the history of strikes against Boeing, and the fact that even the union hall in Everett has a sculpture of striking workers out front, I can certainly understand how Boeing would feel the Machinists union does not have the company's best interest at heart. Certainly the Machinists deserve fair pay, the best benefits possible, and all the rights and privileges that any other skilled worker is entitled to. But times are a-changin'.
Like any large corporation, there is an inequity between what the workers make and what the executives/management makes. That's the way it is, and that's the way it has always been. Unfortunately, workers are now faced with a new reality when it comes to health-care benefits and retirement benefits. The days of full pensions and fully paid medical benefits are behind us. For better or worse, businesses all across America are doing away with traditional benefits and requiring employees to contribute to retirement funds and help pay for medical insurance. Why should Boeing be any different?
For the union to vote not to accept the new package offer by Boeing is, in my opinion, a self-defeating action. I lived in Atlanta in the mid-'80s when the Eastern Airline pilots went on strike. That ended badly. Eastern declared bankruptcy, and the pilots found themselves without a job. I fear that Boeing will almost certainly start moving jobs to other states where workers are willing to work for less. It may not sit well with the Machinists union, but the reality is that corporations will most certainly manufacture where it costs less.
I'm certain there are many people who disagree with the idea that Boeing has the right to change the benefits it offers its workers. But the harsh reality is that Boeing is in business to make money and has a responsibility to its shareholders to reduce costs wherever possible. Millions of Americans would be happy to have the benefits that were presented in Boeing's contract extension offer. If the majority of the Boeing machinists feel this offer is unfair, then so be it. But if Boeing decides to move production to another state, these workers need to be prepared to find other jobs that would measure up to what they passed up.
Sven Mogelgaard lives in Mill Creek.
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