By Chuck Taylor
A local Machinists union business rep says he is joining a national reform ticket seeking to oust the top leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
Jason Redrup, a District 751 business representative of 2,500 workers at the Everett plant, was to announce his candidacy Thursday at a rally at the union hall near Paine Field. He will run for general vice president of the international. Jay Cronk, a reformer recently fired by the national office in Upper Marlboro, Md., is running for president. Cronk visited metro Puget Sound recently to campaign.
In an email, Redrup said he hoped to unseat “the current incumbents who triggered the chain of events that resulted in the destructive contract (which) 38 percent of members approved” on Jan. 3. District 751 members voted 51 percent yes to accept an early contract extension offered by Boeing. The vote occurred while many workers were on the company’s holiday break.
Cronk, Redrup and others are critical of IAM President Tom Buffenbarger’s assertive role in the Boeing contract negotiations.
In a news release, Redrup said the new contract “was approved by less than 600 votes. The fact that at least 2,000 more union members weren’t able to vote this time definitely affected the outcome. If this was about democracy, then have it on a day when a fair up or down vote can occur and a decisive majority of members can make the decision.”
Boeing’s offer promises 777X work in Everett but also means a gradual end of a defined pension plan in favor of a defined contribution plan, among other take-backs.
In aiming for national office, Redrup said, “I want to make sure that what happened to union members here doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
He and Cronk are two of four reform candidates whose goals are outlined at www.iamreform.org. The IAM agreed to hold a new election after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found problems with the nominating process that effectively discouraged competition in an election last year.
The IAM’s more than 800 local lodges must hold nominating meetings by Jan. 25. To qualify for the ballot for the union’s national executive council elections, candidates have to be nominated by 25 locals.
Redrup’s news release in its entirety:
Local Machinists to Run Against IAM International Incumbents In Response to Forced Boeing Vote
Jan. 9, 2014
CONTACT: Jason Redrup 425-330-8680. Visit www.iamreform.org for info.
One of the leaders of the Machinists Union at Boeing says he is doing what is necessary to make sure that what happened to his union’s members doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Jason Redrup, who is one of the top elected officials of Machinists at Boeing, says he’s running for the office of general vice president of the International Association of Machinists &Aerospace Workers because of the actions of his union’s International headquarters during the recent vote on Boeing’s 777X contract offer.
“I have seen a side of our International leadership that made me question their values and commitment to the labor movement,” said Redrup. “The only way to make sure this doesn’t happen to another group of Machinists is to replace our current leadership with people who will put the interests of our members first. If this destructive leadership style goes unchallenged, it sets a dangerous pattern for other contracts in the aerospace industry.”
Redrup said the union’s International President, R. Thomas Buffenbarger, ordered the vote on Boeing’s offer be held Jan. 3 when he knew that thousands of union members would be on vacation and unable to vote. Buffenbarger ordered the vote over the objections of Seattle-area union leaders including Redrup and District 751 President Tom Wroblewski. Buffenbarger also denied the local leaders’ request to delay the vote for just one business day so more Machinists could vote, Redrup said.
As a result, Redrup said more than 2,000 fewer Machinists voted on Jan. 3 than voted on Boeing’s first contract offer in November. “This second offer was approved by less than 600 votes,” he said. “The fact that at least 2,000 more union members weren’t able to vote this time definitely affected the outcome. If this was about democracy, then have it on a day when a fair up or down vote can occur and a decisive majority of members can make the decision.”
Redrup said hundreds of Machinists have contacted the union since Friday’s vote to demand either a recount or a whole new vote on the Boeing contract offer. A union spokesman confirmed that, and said that only Buffenbarger, the International president, can authorize either a recount or a revote — and so far he has declined either option.
In an interview in the Seattle Times, Buffenbarger questioned when 5,000 members didn’t vote on Nov. 13. “Why isn’t he questioning when thousands more didn’t vote this time and the outcome was a razor thin margin,” Redrup said. “Somehow our International President touts this as a clear and strong decision. He overlooks that only 38 percent of the members voted to approve the proposal. Our union leadership must be accountable to our members who toil each day to earn a living and pay their union dues.”
Redrup understands there could be consequences. His running mate, Jay Cronk, was fired from his job at IAM headquarters once he announced himself as a challenger to Buffenbarger for the union’s top job. Cronk had worked for 21 years as one of the senior representatives for Machinists Union members who work in the railroad and airline industries, but was fired one week after he announced he was seeking office.
Redrup works full time as a business representative for Machinists Union District Lodge 751, representing the interests of more than 2,500 union members who work on 787s at Boeing’s Everett plant. Before that, he worked as a structures mechanic on Boeing’s 767 jets, and served as president of Local 751-A, which has more thanp 18,000 members and is one of the largest local lodge in the entire IAM.
Buffenbarger has been the union’s International President since 1997 and has never faced an election challenge. That could change on Jan. 25, however, if Redrup, Cronk and their supporters get nominated by at least 25 of the union’s 900 local lodges during meetings held on that day.
In the meantime, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating whether there was any wrongdoing with the way the Boeing contract vote was scheduled. That investigation will take six to 12 weeks.