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Moe Szyslak

Boeing, striking machinists' talks break down (Seriously....)

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Boeing, striking machinists' talks break down

Tuesday October 14, 12:41 am ET

By Manuel Valdes, Associated Press Writer

Talks between Boeing, striking machinists break down as 5-week strike grinds on

SEATTLE (AP) -- Boeing Co. says renewed negotiations with its striking machinists broke down over an issue crucial to the company's "long-term competitiveness." A labor leader says the union was being asked to bargain away 2,000 jobs.

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The failed talks are the latest twist in the five-week-old strike by more than 27,000 commercial jet production workers, with both sides seemingly far apart on key issues as the walkout enters its 39th day.

The strike has halted jet assembly at Boeing plants in Washington, Oregon and Kansas.

Talks between the two sides resumed Sunday for the first time since machinists went on strike Sept. 6 over issues that include job security, pay, retirement benefits and health care.

Doug Kight, Boeing vice president of human resources and the company's chief negotiator, said the company was disappointed in the breakdown late Monday.

"We want to resolve this strike so employees can return to work, but we cannot sacrifice our ability to continuously improve productivity and our long-term competitiveness for an agreement," Kight said in a statement.

A sharper-toned statement issued by Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists District 751, squarely blamed the breakdown on the issues of job security and outsourcing.

"The company is attempting to put the union in an unacceptable position to bargain away our members' jobs," Wroblewski said, adding one area of dispute was the job security of 2,000 union members who provide services ranging from material delivery to distribution of parts.

Wroblewski contends Boeing wants to outsource those jobs. Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx declined comment late Monday on the union's specific allegations.

"It has become apparent that the long-term strategy of The Boeing Company is to eliminate these IAM positions and replace the union workers with outside suppliers," Wroblewski said. "The words 'flexibility' and 'competitiveness' for Boeing appear to mean eliminating IAM jobs."

In his statement, Kight said, "Given current economic conditions, it is now more important than ever that we retain the ability to respond to a dynamic, uncertain environment."

No new talks were scheduled after a federal mediator adjourned Monday's session.

Before the machinists walked out in September, a two-day contract extension requested by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire also failed to bring results.

Besides outsourcing, other key unresolved issues include health care, wages and pensions, Wroblewski said.

Analysts have said they think Boeing is losing $100 million or more in deferred revenue each day of the strike, for a total approaching $4 billion.

Outsourcing has been a key issue for the machinists from the start. Union officials have said their members should at least have the right to bid against outside companies for work traditionally done by the machinists. They note that problems with subcontractors caused repeated delays in testing and delivery of the all-new 787 jet well before the strike.

The walkout has further pushed back that program, all but eliminating any chance of a test flight in the fourth quarter of 2008 as planned and risking further delays of deliveries to customers anxious for the fuel-saving, technologically advanced aircraft.

During a 28-day strike against Boeing in 2005, settled largely with retention of existing health coverage, the company delivered three planes and missed more than two dozen deliveries.

Despite the nation's economic crisis this year, Boeing Chief Executive W. James McNerney Jr. has insisted that the Chicago-based company's seven- to eight-year order backlog remains solid. Boeing delivered 10 planes in September after the strike began, saying those aircraft had been largely finished before the walkout, but missed about 30 deliveries because of the dispute.

Union members, meanwhile, are receiving $150 a week in strike pay, less than one-seventh of their average from Boeing. Union leaders have said those payments from the union's $140 million strike fund, which continues to receive dues revenue from members in non-striking locals, could continue for five or six months.

Associated Press writer Tim Klass contributed to this story.

This affects me that is why I am posting it.

GET RID OF THE UNION!!!

"Union members, meanwhile, are receiving $150 a week in strike pay, less than one-seventh of their average from Boeing."

150 x 7 = $1050 per week. I think they are doing fine. Strike in 05 and now another in 08. I really hope they dont think this has nothing to do with why Boeing is looking to outsource.

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I am a little confused - are the getting $150 per week or per day?

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"Union members, meanwhile, are receiving $150 a week in strike pay, less than one-seventh of their average from Boeing."

They are getting $150 a week but that is only 1/7th of their normal weekly pay. Thats $54,600 a year, not bad, but also certainly not outrageous.

I think the main issue is that anyone in the airline industry doesn't see a raise unless they fight for it. It can be hard to live on the same salary year after year with how much the cost of food/gas/rent, etc goes up each year. Each year you would be worse off then you were the previous year.

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First, bear in mind that I am not a union supporter. I have had too many negative experiences while being a union member however...

I don't think there's any reason to fuss over the "strike pay." In many unions, if they are set up right, some of the dues paid are set aside to make it possible to weather the storm of a strike. Without that "benefit" it would weaken the union. After all, their greatest asset or bargaining chip is the potential for a long work stoppage and lost revenue for the company.

Strike pay will only last so long and in order for the striking union to have the power of the many, they must make certain those on strike can survive it. Otherwise the union solidarity falls apart and the company gets the upper hand.

The company is in the same boat. It can sometimes come down to which can hold out the longest on the tough issues.

Bob

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I wasnt concerned about their strike pay, I thought the idea of striking in the first place was a bad idea. This is why Boeing is trying to outsource, what company would want to deal with the strikes and loss of revenue during strikes if they dont have to. I think the union is creating more bad than good for themselves.

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The way I read it is the other way around. Boeing is trying to outsource it’s work and cut jobs. The employees are upset with this and striking. $55k per year is worthless if you don’t have a job.

I think there is a time and place for Unions and what comes from them is mostly good or at least the original intention was good, however some of them have really outgrown themselves (NEA) and need to be reconfigured.

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So now instead of Boeing cutting 2000 jobs, they will cut them all. At least they stood up for what is right though!

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I think the union is creating more bad than good for themselves.

I don't work in a unionized field however I am pro-union. The middle income people have to make a stand for livable wages and one person cannot do it by themselves. There's power in numbers and a union can inflict enough damage on a company to force them to the table and negotiate a fair contract. Remove unions and everyone, including you, will end up making the same as a Wall Mart employee. Unions also make sure their rank and file has livable wages, vacation, reasonable work weeks and health care, all things worth fighting for. There's a reason the middle class is shrinking by the day, and the lack of unions is a contributing factor.

Ps.

I hope this is settled before it impacts your livelihood. I hate to see good hardworking people loose their jobs due to factors beyond their own control.

Good luck.

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Union officials have said their members should at least have the right to bid against outside companies for work traditionally done by the machinists.

What the ells wrong with that ?

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Quote:
a union can inflict enough damage on a company

I realize that you probably didn't intend this to come out the way I'm going to use it but since you put it this way, I'd like to comment.

Most of my negative impression of unions came from this very statement. There's an old say, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." That isn't to say that one should give up without a fight or at least without resistance but there are times when we will try our darndest to take a mile when given an inch.

In my experience the union actually seemed to promote behavior that would be a negative impact on the company (under the table of course). I've experienced this attitude in other union shops where I wasn't a member but an outside contractor. It's like they do whatever they can to get away with as much as possible and in my experience as a union member that included stealing from the company, believe it or not.

I couldn't understand this and still don't to this day. Why would you want to do things that cost your employer more money while at the same time ask for, no demand more from them and then wonder why they resist?

They want the company to come to the bargaining table in good faith. It just seems that they should practice what they preach too and this goes both ways as I'm sure there is plenty of evidence against both sides.

In my union experience it was like working for the enemy and I never could figure out why my union would want me to continue to work for my enemy.

Bob

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I am unionized and I hate it. There is absolutely NO, ZERO, ZIP, incentive for me to work faster, harder or smarter. Can you please tell me how a union postal worker will help me? How about teacher or public works employee? The notion that removing unions will reduce wages is insane. The market will pay what it will for a skilled employee!!

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I am a non union worker, that being said I was once told that "Bad management needs to have unions" and I agree.

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Quote:
Remove unions and everyone, including you, will end up making the same as a Wall Mart employee. Unions also make sure their rank and file has livable wages, vacation, reasonable work weeks and health care, all things worth fighting for. There's a reason the middle class is shrinking by the day, and the lack of unions is a contributing factor

I have to at least somewhat agree with that. If unions hadn't fought for the changes they did in the early 1900s we would not be where we are today. The only issue I really have is unions have become big business themselves and that is who they tend to look out for.

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Can you please tell me how a union postal worker will help me? How about teacher or public works employee?

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Originally Posted By: Kidd
a union can inflict enough damage on a company

They want the company to come to the bargaining table in good faith.

The point of my statement was; by having the power to inflict damage is reason for the company to come to the bargaining table in good faith. If the employee has no power, the company will not even come to the table, let alone in good faith.

Kind of like have a nuclear weapon, it's there as a deterrence. smile

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Soooo, suppose two guys are sitting in a 10'x10' room, each with a pile of hand grenades at his side. Which one presents a higher deterrent, the one with 100 grenades or the one with 200?

I don't think it is necessarily the threat of damage. Both sides in a stike suffer damage and in most cases it is irreparable or at least long-lived.

My point was that too often unions begin to get this attitude that they are more powerful than they are and this actually creates more problems than it solves. Looking back on my experience, even though I may have made good money, I was happier making less and working harder after I left.

It isn't always about making money. Where I am now, I am part of a company family and not just an employee number. All of upper management knows me by my name. They didn't in the union shop I worked at. I also know that I am where I am today not because my employee number was lower than all other suitors but because of my abilities. Something else very few of my former union brothers and sisters can claim even today. Incidentally, I was an unknown hick from the Iron Range when I started here and my name carried no weight to help me advance within this company.

Bob

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Quote:
Analysts have said they think Boeing is losing $100 million or more in deferred revenue each day of the strike, for a total approaching $4 billion.

That's quite a figure. While deferred revenue is revenue the company may yet receive, some percentage definitely will be lost.

How can the company afford to defer $4 billion and still keep operating? Even though their payroll has sharply dropped because of the strike, how are they getting more "competitive" in the marketplace by deferring $4 billion?

The strike is costing the company money it can ill afford to lose. In the long run, that will force Boeing to ask for more and more union concessions, and future jets that have not already been contracted for will have to become more expensive to make up for company losses. That'll end up driving airline ticket prices up, too.

Everyone involved, whether management, labor or customer, is losing because of how long this is dragging on.

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"Making less and working harder"

Sounds like a great compaign slogan for McCain!

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Originally Posted By: chasineyes
Can you please tell me how a union postal worker will help me? How about teacher or public works employee?

Why would they help you? I'm confused by that statement. confused

Quote:
The notion that removing unions will reduce wages is insane. The market will pay what it will for a skilled employee!!

You're kidding right? You don't know anyone whose union was busted and ended up working for less wages? It's happening everywhere and it's the reason business owners break unions, to get cheaper labor.

Or moving the off shore....Look at walmart...they rather close a store than allow Union to form.

interesting

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My point about helping me Kidd...is how is having the postal worker unionized helping my wages or benefits?? Also is it true that in a trade like plumbing, they (the union hall) will only "recruit" "x" number of employees to keep the supply of tradespeople down and therefore increasing the demand and wages? Again though, how does the fact that a unionized teacher's wages and benefits is somehow tied to my wages and benefits in the manufacturing industry? Are you assuming my employer looks at the school district and says "heck I guess I have to offer the same type of pay and bennies??" If you are, I have a bridge to sell you.

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You're kidding right? You don't know anyone whose union was busted and ended up working for less wages? It's happening everywhere and it's the reason business owners break unions, to get cheaper labor.

I have a very intimate relationship with a person whose union was busted, and that person ended up WAY better off without the union, and so did the company this person worked for.

This person is me. Unions may have had their place in the early 1900's, but are a hinderance to a trained and good working individual now. Boeing employees may (I say may) be in for one heck of a shock if and when they ever go back to work.........for Boeing.

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I think unions still have a place. Collectively, workers should have a voice, because in the case of larger companies in particular corporate abuse happens quite often, and unions can to some degree bring power to bear to ensure a decent living for their members.

However, so many unions get their panties in a bunch over issues that really are pretty minor when looking at a bigger picture. And then they dig their feet in. And then the company digs its feet in. And then it goes on and on and everyone loses.

I have been a union member, union contract negotiator, and have served on a union executive board. I have also been in management, working on the other side of the table.

Some companies and the unions that work within their walls do pretty well together, the company getting its share of concessions to remain profitable enough to satisfy its investors and the union pulling in enough raises and benefit concessions to help its membership live a good life.

It's the excesses from either side/both sides that kill it for all of us. At Boeing, it's excess.

I think it has largely to do with greed of scale, as I call it. Power corrupts, as we all know, and the larger the union, the more power its leaders hold, and the more attracted the power-hungry personality is to those leadership roles. The largest unions have a lot of money flowing through the union execs' pockets. Boeing's unions are among the largest, and some of the big unions are so big they are like governments unto themselves.

Bad deal.

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Unions are like government. Built on good intention but breeding corruption.

Destroys a capitalist economy. People should be paid what their skills are worth, not what a union is able to get by holding a company hostage.

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When I went to work in a union shop I had to learn how to drag my *$$ to fit in and work at the pace that everyone else did. A whole lot of waste went on there. Then there was the 10% or so that never did anything productive and did nothing but whine, complain, and stir the pot. The union protected the jobs of these people so they couldn't be fired. Productivity would have improved if they were gone. I got the feeling all the unions cared about was how many people they had paying dues.

On another note there is an attempt (mainly by Democrats) to take away secret ballots in union elections. You would sign a union card when others are around and that would be considered a yes vote for the union. This is very wrong in my opinion.

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When I went to work in a union shop I had to learn how to drag my *$$ to fit in and work at the pace that everyone else did. A whole lot of waste went on there. Then there was the 10% or so that never did anything productive and did nothing but whine, complain, and stir the pot. The union protected the jobs of these people so they couldn't be fired. Productivity would have improved if they were gone. I got the feeling all the unions cared about was how many people they had paying dues.

Another point I struggle with. I watch this happen day in and day out and if I bring it up with a rep they tell me not to worry about it. I'd say 75% work great, they others I struggle with. To me its simple, if you dont do your job you get fired. When you are an employee and someone asks you to do a job (that is in your job description) and you say "No", you should get fired.

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