This race to the bottom untenable

Now that everyone else has weighed in on the Boeing-Machinists debacle, I think it’s time a retired machinist, living in part on a “defined Boeing pension” threw in his two-bits worth (that would be me).

The Boeing Co., when making their case before the media, likes to use doublespeak, obfuscation and outright lies in order to sway opinion and further their miserly agenda. They make statements that say, and I am paraphrasing here, “We don’t feel that defined pensions meet the goals of our long term business plan.” “The costs of these plans are untenable.” Or how about, “The vagaries of the airline industry preclude the funding of these programs.” What? This, in the face of ever-rising stock values, incredible growth and record income.

Now here’s the truth. A substantial part of my retirement is funded by a Boeing defined pension, poor as it is. For 23 years of service I receive $1,701 monthly and have since 2009. No raises or cost of living increase … ever, nor will there ever be. And, most importantly, Boeing recognizes that it is an inferior retirement and so they currently offer a 401K with partial matching funds so we may help shore it up. Remember, the lion’s share of that 401K is our own money. Here are some comparisons. A pal of mine retired, age 48 from Washington state ferries on a “30 and out” system about 10 years ago. His pension is over four times mine with only seven more years. My father was a retired Seattle longshoreman, 30 years, retired in 1985. At the time of his death in 2009, his pension was about the same as mine and this is after collecting for 23 years. By now you should see the picture. The day you set down your tools Boeing wants to be totally shuck of you. My wife is from the Philippines and they have a name for this level of skinflintedness, “kuripot”!

I sincerely pray that the younger members of the machinist’s union can look past just the job security issue and try to imagine an underfunded (or worse) retirement because their 401K hit the skids. The only thing that is untenable is this insane race to the bottom.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge.

Jack W. Mathews, Jr.

Stanwood

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