Boeing's greedy labor union

Related video: "IAM bigs prep Boeing clash"

Killing the goose that lays the golden egg

Know who the United States' leading exporter is in terms of sales? Boeing, the Chicago-based manufacturer of such diverse items as commercial and military aircraft, rotorcraft, electronic and defense systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced communications systems. It also operates the space shuttle and International Space Station. And it employs 160,000 people, here and round the world.

It is one of the great American companies, wonderfully managed, almost always ahead of the curve, and so competitive that only Airbus, the European conglomerate subsidized by the French and German governments, comes anywhere close to being in its class.

But just now Boeing is locked in a standoff with its union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, over a labor contract. The union has threatened to send 26,800 machinists to the picket line if an agreement on the contract is not reached today, and a strike would cost Boeing roughly $100 million in revenue for each day its production lines go idle. In 2005, according to the Wall Street Journal, when the union struck for 28 days a number of Boeing suppliers were forced to temporarily lay off workers because unused parts were beginning to stack up.

And what has Boeing offered its union workers? A deal that would raise wages by an average of 11 percent for each worker over the three-year life of the contract, and boost the union's pension multiplier by 14 percent to $80 a month for each year of a worker's service. Under the contract, according to the Journal, the average union member would earn roughly $65,000 a year before overtime - which averages $10,000 a year.

Now we understand those kinds of wages don't come close to your average city manager or school superintendent in the Victor Valley - where overpaying "public" servants is a way of life enjoyed by no one else in the valley's work force - but Boeing is a private sector outfit. Paying outrageous corporate taxes and adhering to equally outrageous government regulations put in place by other "public" servants who have no understanding of profit and loss mechanisms makes survival a lot tougher order in the private sector, otherwise called the real world.

On Thursday, Boeing proposed a deal that would raise wages by an average of 11 percent, or $34,000, for each worker over its three-year life and boost the pension multiplier by 14 percent to $80 a month for each year of service. Under the proposed contract, the average union member would earn roughly $65,000 a year before overtime that averages $10,000 a year or more.

The union, on the other hand, wants pay raises of at least 13 percent, plus a larger pension contribution from Boeing.

In other words, what's going on at Boeing is the same sort of thing that went on for decades in the American automobile and steel industries, where unions used the strike lever to shut down operations and cost their own corporations not only billions of dollars in lost sales, but have over the years effectively destroyed those industries' ability to compete in the world's market place. And lost their jobs in the process.

Boeing's machinists union, of course, feels no compunction about killing off the company which provides it with outstanding jobs, labor conditions that rival any company in the world, and pension plans that even in Europe are envied. They haven't learned the lessons taught them by other industries who've let unions destroy them. So one of these days, those workers will pay the price. And so will the rest of us.

Yet it's unions who like to talk about how "greedy" corporations are. And guess who echoes such nonsense?


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