As the New Year ushers in major changes in the minimum wage affecting the little guy in a major city like New York, Boeing machinists are voting on a critical labor contract that could cost thousands of jobs and put billions of dollars in flux in our economy. Boeing is bracing for backlash if the workers reject the deal to build the 777X jetliner in its home state, where Boeing has been for almost 100 years.
If the deal is rejected, Boeing will take its plane elsewhere. There are currently over 22 states that have offered to host a new aircraft factory. The impending contract has created friction between labor organizations of machinists and aerospace workers, who oppose the successor to its popular 777 wide body jet. Division also exists between younger and older workers.
Opponents are still stinging from a vote two months ago in which the majority of the machinists rejected a like offer that would have affected their benefits and pension plans.
The union’s leadership bargained for the deal, which would have extended the contract beyond its current expiration in 2016. Local leaders were opposed, disagreeing with the trade-offs.
As the rift continues, Boeing has offered larger signing bonuses and other perks. But local leadership continues to allege it will affect their economic welfare for more than ten years. National leaders maintain the new offer exceeds 1 billion in revenue over the previous one. IAM Internationals want membership to have the final say.
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has called the new package “unseemly” and points to the company’s history of externalizing costs on workers or taxpayers.
Aside from the pension loss, local union officials feel the offer does not provide a work guarantee for machinists as the offer reserves the right to utilize lower paid contractors. In spite of a letter from the vice president of human resources at Boeing, stating that the machinists will get the work, other statements alluded to building in further training for current workers.
While the average wage in the aerospace industry is $29 an hour, the rift continues between younger and older works, and pension provisions. The fast food workers in New York City are fighting a similar battle on wage issues. The facts on survival and job loss speak for themselves whether they involving feeding America with burgers and fries or contributing to a multi-billion dollar aerospace industry.
Source: reuters.com, “Boeing machinists vote on contract crucial to 777X jetliner” Alwyn Scott, Jan. 03, 2014