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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 30, 2008 at 4:40 PM

Boeing strike

Outsourcing hurts everybody

I am an engineer at Boeing, in the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, and I support the International Association of Machinists’ position of wanting to keep jobs at home as much as possible [“Simmering strike scorching both sides,” Times, page one, Sept. 29].

We all understand that some jobs are going to leave the United States because of sales contracts, but it doesn’t have to be as rampant as Boeing is allowing it to be. The fact of the matter is, Boeing sees a short-term gain by outsourcing work. However, in the long term, it’s not going to be good for business.

The IAM — and SPEEA, too — is concerned about the long-term viability of this business. We want to continue to have jobs long into the future. We want Boeing to be successful, otherwise we’ll all lose our jobs, union and non-union alike. But it is the unions that stand up and say, “This isn’t the smartest business move, and we’re so angry about it, we’re going on strike.”

Call it tough-love taken to the extreme, but it is necessary. The more jobs are outsourced, the more the talent on the home front dwindles. There are distinct advantages in having the building and design work done in proximity: We engineers can walk to the factory and look at what results from our designs and what we need to do to make it better, more efficient and more practical for maintenance when the customer receives the product, etc.

The scary thing here is, it almost seems like Boeing doesn’t want to build airplanes anymore. It’s like they just want to take the big pieces from around the world and slap them together here. The machinists on strike don’t think that’s a good way to build an airplane, and they ought to know — they’ve been building airplanes for years! And, pretty soon, Boeing’s going to find out that the engineers agree.

Outsourcing hurts. It hurts employees and employers. Outsourcing hurts even more than a strike does.

— Sophia Jones, Snohomish

Eliminate strikes

At what point does society say “enough!” to the Machinist union’s legal extortion practices? What kind of society would we have if everyone could hold their company hostage if they didn’t like how they were treated?

There are alternatives to a strike, but it doesn’t appear that union leadership is too interested in pursuing these options. And, why not? Well, it’s because they don’t suffer during a strike — unfortunately, everyone else does. When Boeing union members strike it hurts everyone: other Boeing employees, suppliers, local businesses, Boeing’s reputation and profit margin and, most importantly, Boeing’s customers, who don’t have to buy Boeing products.

Let’s eliminate strikes, keep the wheels on the bus turning and try to achieve workable solutions via mediation and binding arbitration. Or — better yet — if you don’t like your job, find a better one.

— Greg Kisinger, Renton

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