Danny Westneat raises a seemingly valid concern when he writes, “If doing away with pensions was so critical for the health of a private company making record profits, then why not for a cash-strapped state?” ["Boeing puts all pensions at risk,” NWTuesday, Jan. 7]
But then I remembered: Government was never intended to be a for-profit enterprise.
Rob Curran and other Machinists before the 777X contract vote last week in South Park. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times).
Where’s the parity between executives and Machinists?
Boeing workers pumped out more jets in 2013 than ever before [“Boeing’s 2013 deliveries soar to record despite 787 woes,” Business, Jan. 6]. Jet sales were the second highest in company history. Sales are up, profits are up, and Boeing stock is up.
Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney’s annual salary is up 20 percent to $27.5 million and his pension increased dramatically as well.
The union’s narrow approval of the Boeing contract extension was tough but necessary, for its economic future and for the region’s, wrote The Seattle Times’ editorial board soon after the vote. A 777X built in Everett translates to an estimated 20,000 jobs at Boeing and its suppliers, worth $20 billion in economic activity. For perspective, consider how 21 states had salivated to win the 777X competition.
Now that Boeing workers have finally agreed, after much arm-twisting by meddling public officials and know-it-all paper pundits, to give away a decent pension [“Machinists invest in aerospace future,” Opinion, Jan. 6], I have a few questions:
• Since Boeing already has large pieces of every airplane built offshore by labor that is at least as expensive as it is here, what exactly have we saved for the Seattle area?
Anyone who doesn’t need a pension, or out of jealousy needs one but knows that he or she won’t get one, feels pretty easy in giving away other people’s benefits. Maybe that is the reality of today, but that doesn’t make it the best course. Without pensions, people get into serious trouble after age or disability forces them out of the workforce. Some have family to rely on, others do not. And the GOP is hot to eliminate programs for the poor.
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.
Your editorial was correct when it said “the global economy has changed.” [“Build the 777X, and the future,” Opinion, Dec. 29].
A new, worldwide “princeling” class has been created. This class crosses all political, ethnic, gender and skills lines. It’s made up of probably only a few million people and controls the majority of the world’s wealth. Besides the obscene wealth, one of its character traits is that its members feel entitled to praise, adoration and positions of power over the remaining billions of people.
I received this reader adaption by from Derek Whipple of the song “I Am Changing My Name To Chrysler,” originally by Tom Paxton. Check out Arlo Guthrie’s adaption of the original from Farm Aid in 2008 in the embedded video player above to get an idea what the tune sounds like.
‘I Am Changing My Name To Boeing’
Oh the value of our pensions are shrinking out of sight,
And corporate welfare is the modern era’s blight,
What the contract used to get us,
Now won’t buy a head of lettuce,
No, the corporate policies aren’t right.
But amid the clouds we spot a shining ray,
We can even glimpse a new and better way,
And we’ve devised a plan of action,
Worked it out the last fraction,
And the union’s going into action here today.
We are changing our name to Boeing,
We are massing down in Olympia, by bus,
We will tell Gov’nor Jay Inslee,
What he did for McNerney Jr. will be perfectly acceptable to us.
IAM member Bert Groom gets his picture taken with his ballot during voting at the Renton Union Hall for IAM District 751 on Nov. 13 (John Lok / The Seattle Times).
There was movement over the weekend on a Boeing contract vote related to 777X production. The top leadership of the Machinists, known within the union as “the International,” has ordered a vote on Boeing’s contract offer on Jan. 3, despite strong opposition from the local Machinists leadership. Boeing has said it would build the 777X here if machinists approve the revised contract offer, which after 2016 replaces future growth in their pensions with a defined contribution retirement savings plan.
Boeing’s days in Washington state are numbered
Lots of people are upset at the Boeing Union members for voting down a contract that would secure jobs in the region for many years [“National union orders Boeing vote — Jan. 3,” page one, Dec. 22].
First vote happened too fast and was based on emotion
Boeing machinists union member Kevin Flynn walks near a union hall in support of his leaders’ rejection of Boeing’s last contract offer as he waits for a small group of protesters who instead favor a vote, Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Everett, Wash. Local union leaders rejected the offer last week because they said it was too similar to one voted down last month. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
My hope is that members will focus on the contract and on what a yes or no vote means for them and their union brothers and sisters. Emotional issues of Boeing management’s compensation, stock performance and profits are distractions. These are not contract issues.
If the 777X is built here, there is also a good case to continue to build future new airplane models here.
Many of our letters this week have been in response to Boeing, the Machinists and a possible vote. Gov. Jay Inslee and Rep. Rick Larsen want the members of International Association of Machinists District Council 751 to have another vote on a revised contract from the company. This would allow union members to make up their own minds on the adequacy of the offer. Times columnist Lance Dickie agrees that the union members should vote and have the power to decide their own future.
Below our readers share their perspectives.
With record-breaking profits, Boeing should be the one to compromise
The issue between the Machinists and Boeing is getting to a point were there are no winners [“Maybe another 777X vote,” page one, Dec. 13].
The Machinists are split into two different sides themselves. A large number of the workers are happy with the current offer from the company and are willing to agree to the new contract in order to continue supporting their families.
The heads of the union, however, claim that the new contract is too similar to the old one and would let Boeing to find a new plant location sooner than agreed upon in the new contract. The union needs to get on the same page with its goals before it is too late and neither it nor Boeing gets what they are looking for.