Boeing union chooses leader

EVERETT – Boeing Machinists have elected a district president to represent members in the Puget Sound area.

Members of the local labor union picked Tom Wroblewski to lead the more than 20,000-member group, with results coming in early Saturday morning. A member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for the past 30 years, Wroblewski won the District 751 race by fewer than 600 votes. On April 1, he takes over for Mark Blondin, who has accepted a promotion with the union.

“Our Union has to listen to members, have their respect, help solve problems and be willing to fight for them,” Wroblewski said in a prepared statement.

With 2,914 votes, Wroblewski edged out Clifton Wyatt, who received 2,346 votes.

During the campaign, Wroblewski, 52, emphasized his experience with the union, having served the last 14 years as district business representative and grievance coordinator. Wyatt, 56, stressed the need for change, describing the existing leadership as “serving its own interests and not those of its members.” He joined the Machinists in 1988 and has served as president of the local A lodge, representing half the district’s members.

In 2008, the Machinists will head back into contract negotiations with the Boeing Co. During the union’s last talks with Boeing in 2005, the Machinists went on strike for 28 days. Wroblewski was part of the contract discussions.

Blondin, 47, will still be involved in the Machinists’ labor talks with Boeing next year in his new role as aerospace coordinator over Boeing contracts for the United States and Canada.

The negotiations next year will come at a critical time. Boeing is scheduled to deliver its first 787 Dreamliner in 2008. With a commercial airplane backlog worth $174 billion, Boeing has enough orders to keep all its production lines in Everett full through 2010, with the Dreamliner sold out until 2012 or 2013.

In the past 25 months, Boeing has added an average of 250 Machinists monthly to its payroll to support not only its new 787 program but also production ramp-ups on its established programs.

“I want to unite the membership to ensure we have a strong bargaining position for upcoming negotiations and hope to get more members involved in our union,” Wroblewski said. “We have many issues ahead and by working together, we will continue to have the best contracts in the aerospace industry.”

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