Paltry strike pay for IAM-Boeing unionists

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Union dues get squandered on politics

After 22 days on strike, Boeing machinists are recieving their first strike checks from the union. "It means my livelihood. It means me paying my rent, buying groceries," said Barbara Russell.

The first weekly strike checks of $150 were available Saturday for 25,200 Puget Sound area Machinists union members on strike at The Boeing Co. It may not seem like much, but after 22 days on the picket line, at least it's something. "It's a lot better than nothing, a lot better, and it's fine with me, I'll take what I can get," said Julie Brumbaug.

The checks became available on the 22nd day of the strike that began on Sept. 6 at 12:01 a.m. over several issues, including pension plans for new workers, a cost of living wage increase and concerns that work might be outsourced to other companies.

"We haven't heard much about the negotiations or anything like that but we're prepared to do what we have to do," said Clinton Metcalf.

The union says it has a $140 million strike fund, and can issue checks for five or six months.

But many workers aren't certain they can last that long.

"I have a little bit of savings I'm living on right now, but I can only last about four to six weeks, and then it will be gone, so I'm a little bit nervous about that," said Lori Hurd.

No new negotiations are on the horizon.

The last Machinists strike in 2005 lasted 24 days and the previous one in 1995 went 69 days.

Union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said workers picked up their checks at three locations -- Green River Community College, the Seattle union hall and the Evergreen Fairgrounds -- from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. She said workers who didn't pick up their first checks can get their first checks along with their second ones next Saturday.


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