Analyst: Local Boeing Machinists should divorce national union

The Boeing Co. and its local Machinists haven’t enjoyed the best relationship over the years – that’s no secret.

On Wednesday, analyst Scott Hamilton, with Leeham Co., suggested a partial solution: the Machinists’ local 751 District should ‘divorce itself from the national union.”

Machinists here should create their own union, over which they’ll have more say than if they maintain their tie to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Hamilton said.

Hamilton spoke at the PNAA conference, which I attended in Lynnwood on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The analyst said that the local Machinists have proven much more creative and willing to work with Boeing than has the national/international union.

“Their relationship with Boeing is contentious,” Hamilton said.

But Hamilton believes that Boeing shares blame for the bad blood between the two. During talks with the Machinists over the fate of second 787 line, Boeing was using the union “as a stalking horse and whipping boy to get more incentives out of South Carolina,” Hamilton said.

Not surprisingly, Boeing disagrees with Hamilton’s assessment of second line talks with the IAM.

“We were absolutely serious in our discussions with the IAM and our willingness to put the second line in Everett,” wrote Tim Healy, Boeing spokesman, over e-mail. “The IAM knew exactly what it would take to get the result they wanted.”

In his monthly column, Local Machinists’ president Tom Wroblewski recently called on Boeing managers to “quick picking fights with us and instead join us in … partnership.”

Despite past problems, Wroblewski writes that the Machinists are “committed to making Boeing a success” but he calls on Boeing to make a commitment to the union in a “real and tangible way.”

For the company’s part, Healy responds:

“We all fail and succeed together, which is why our focus is on our success now and into the future. That success is going to be built on things like meeting our commitments to customers, on improving our productivity, and on making sure that we are competitive with our costs.”

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