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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 2, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Boeing 777X: Readers’ views ahead of the Jan. 3 Machinists vote

Boeing workers are casting ballots Friday on a contract extension that includes bonuses, higher wages, established seniority and earning progression, health and welfare benefits, and a 401(k) plan.

In an editorial published Thursday, The Seattle Times editorial board is urging International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District 751 to vote yes and compromise for the future. “This is a referendum on stable employment within a company and a region for decades to come.”

Also worth reading is former Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s guest column on the vote, writing: “A yes vote is a pro-IAM-union vote. It is a pro-future-jobs vote. It is a pro-current-employees-having-a-job-until-they-retire vote.”

Our readers are weighing in as well ahead of the vote:

401(k) plans inevitable

Editor, the Times:

When I was an employee of Seattle First National Bank, it announced that it was terminating a defined-benefit pension plan in favor of a profit-sharing plan. The year? 1966. The reason? A pension plan was not financially feasible.

In the following 40-plus years, virtually all for-profit businesses have come to the same conclusion. And, as we head into 2014, the only workers with a pension plan are either employed by the government or in a union [“Machinists: A yes vote is pro-union,” Opinion, Jan. 2].

A plaintive request to the Boeing Machinists union: Please give us all a late Christmas present and vote yes on the latest offer from Boeing on Jan. 3. You might lose your pension — which is inevitable — but that is a lot better than losing your job.

Boeing does not appear to be bluffing on moving out of the state. And, while it hurts to give up a benefit that you already have, you and the entire region would benefit from a yes vote.

David A. Duryee, Seattle

Boeing, auto industry similar

I believe that Boeing would not build the 777X here and would also permanently leave Washington if there were another Machinists no vote. Although Puget Sound is the best place for Boeing to build commercial airplanes, Boeing would move elsewhere with rejection of the contract to avoid a continual labor war with IAM 751.

The major contract issues are pension reform, jobs for union members and their children, and labor peace. IAM 751 would have members believe the contract vote includes emotional non-contract issues such as Boeing profits.

Boeing faces the same issues the auto industry faced. These issues are pension obligations exceeding the company’s worth and a highly militant strike-prone union. The auto industry moved south, United Auto Workers membership plunged and GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. Michigan is now a right-to-work state, and Detroit is bankrupt and infested with empty houses. The UAW self-destructed. Today, the UAW works cooperatively with automakers.

IAM 751 says no to a pension reform giveback. A no vote wins this battle for the IAM, but loses the war. A yes-vote wins the war, securing jobs for decades and keeps Boeing in Puget Sound building future new models of commercial airplanes here.

Loyd D. Jacobs, Bellevue

Unions don’t represent members’ needs

It is ironic that the local Machinists union bosses apparently would like to see their members’ children move to right-to-work states in the future, where job growth is greater and living costs are far less. The national bosses see it differently because countrywide union dues pay their salaries, so the more members the better.

As a retired Boeing employee, I hate to watch the company gradually leave the area, but the continuous increases in local wages sure takes a bite out of my fixed pension and savings, as prices naturally increase soon after the wages do. Eventually, current employees will experience the same reality if the cycle continues. Wage increases based on anything other than greater productivity always have more negative effects than positive in the long run.

Let’s hope the union members use their heads when they vote and realize that these days unions are for unions, not for their members.

Gary T. McGavran, Bellevue

Comments | More in Boeing | Topics: 777X, IAM

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