By Mike Lapointe
Since this whole sordid misadventure in landing the 777 production line began, I have followed the events as they unraveled. Never had I seen such a coordinated effort which included members of our political establishment, leaders in the upper echelon of a union which had forgotten they are but the empowered representatives of the rank and file, and at the core of these despicable acts, the Boeing executives.
You can take a stand for or against Boeing, the top union leadership and the politicians, but to me, in the end, the discussion must turn towards integrity, leadership and values when addressing culpability. Where was the integrity of our politicians when they stood next to Boeing and participated in spreading fear for one’s job? Why did they not stand with the workers who campaigned and voted for them?
Everett’s mayor claimed to have seen the contract and determined it was worth accepting “in his heart of hearts.” That is clearly untrue as the details of the agreement were not even finalized as the vote was being rammed through. For all we know it is still not finalized. New contracts are available about two weeks after any settlement, but this one has yet to be seen on the shop floor.
Congressman Larsen told the workers they had to take the contract because Boeing would leave; rejection of the takeaways rendering the company unable to compete. This is also a falsehood. Put in the simplest context to understand clearly, the workers traditional pension accounts for about a fraction of 1 percent of the total labor cost per jetliner that comes off the production line. Labor cost per jetliner is around 5 percent of the total.
Some in leadership positions within the Union, tasked with representing the interest of the membership, failed in their responsibility! Lack of a true democratic structure that places power in the hands of the rank and file has been a serious problem in many unions over the years. But now there is an opportunity to remove the IAM entrenched incumbents by voting them out in upcoming elections and restoring power to where it belongs, on the shop floor. The workers have been wronged, this vote, which should never have taken place, must be reversed and those responsible for forcing the vote must be held accountable.
Boeing executives who are the instigators of these nefarious actions must be asked the question, “What are your values?” Attacking the hard fought for and well deserved gains of the workers who made Boeing profitable over decades, is not how one rewards those who created their wealth.
In 2008, the Wall Street bankers and financiers crashed our economy without even one major conspirator held accountable. Now we have Boeing taking advantage of the tough economic times to further ravage our state and its citizens. The wealth inequality the elite have created is an economic threat to our nation and it must be addressed.
The Boeing workers have been hit from all sides with betrayal, intimidation and suppression of their rights. And so have we all. Boeing, our politicians, and the IAM’s compromised union leadership are forcing our hand. Union members and the community must unify to protect ourselves. The Wobblies motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all” rings true more so today than it did over 100 years ago. We must continue to speak up and spread the word of this injustice until it is wiped from the slate.
Mike Lapointe lives in Everett