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Boeing Issues Continue
By John Disque

john disqueThere's no way around it and no denying it: Big business and politics go hand-in-hand in the USA with Boeing being no exception.

Let's back up a little bit and look at some facts:

Boeing's 5-year net profit was $13 billion or $2.6 billion a year, yet a 1 month strike cost the company $1.3 billion or 6 months of income.

Fully aware of how much damage they can do, the Machinists and Aerospace Workers union (IAM) went on strike in 2005, again in 2008, and rumor has it that they were planning yet another strike in 2011.

Is it a coincidence that Boeing decided to expand its operation to SC (a non-union state) in 2011?

Although many were suspecting it, the official reasoning for the Boeing expansion WAS little more than any company's desire for more profit and ability to fill their existing back-orders. While I'm sure that is part of it, it's now considered fact that Boeing chose SC to remove itself from the control of IAM.

A few months ago Jim Albaugh (head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes) stated to the Seattle Times that unions are making it difficult to continue their momentum and that they can't have union work stoppages every three years.

This has lead to a filed legal battle and the basic fear is: If the union gets their way and stops the Boeing expansion the company will simply pick up and move to another country.

If the result is "a domino effect" with other major companies doing the same it could collapse the entire economic base of the USA. This is why Obama, Gingrich, Alexander and many other political big dogs are paying strict attention and looking for solutions.

No one else seems to want to deal with it so I'll say it: Unions began as a way to protect workers from unsafe working conditions, abuse and unfair wages. It was a great thing, but somewhere along the line it all went wrong.

Today unions seem to exist for the sake of greed, power and control. The union sees the company profit (in this case – $2.6 billion annually) and decides the company can afford more so "give us more; if you don't, we'll shut you down."

Before agreeing or making up your mind, let's take a look at why IAM chose to stop Boeing production and follow through with their previous strikes in 2005 and 2008. Those strikes stopped Boeing's production sites in Washington State, Oregon, and Kansas.

At the time of the 2008 strike the average Boeing Union machinist made $54,000 plus overtime (which can average $10,000 a year) + 10 days paid vacation + an average of $2,100.00 profit sharing , bonuses, dental, medical, and a pension plan.

In 2008 Boeing had a backlog of nearly 4000 orders valued at $263 billion. With the contracts came a variety of union demands dealing with salaries (13% raise), more job security, and an increase to their existing pensions. Boeing initially offered a 9% raise then upped it to 11%, but IAM held out for 13%. Boeing said no, and the strike ensued.

The job security issue is a little more complicated than first meets the eye and the union had a legitimate gripe. Apparently Boeing was being accused of outsourcing more and more work to their suppliers, which was lessening the demand for Boeing machinists.

Fifty-seven days later the two sides managed to reach an agreement. The strike ended but, naturally, it didn't mean that both sides lived happily ever after.

When the Boeing expansion to a nonunion state was apparent IAM filed with (National Labor Relations Board) NLRB who filed a suit against Boeing in April 2011. None of it stopped Boeing's new $1 billion plant from being built in SC and, on June 10 of this year they opened their doors.

When Boeing wasn't going to lie down it became even more apparent that NLRB wasn't backing off. As the allegations, tempers, and economic reality surfaced the story hit the media and became worldwide news.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves: When everything began the big fear and rumor was – Boeing was going to shut down and lay off workers at their Washington facility. The exact opposite has occurred and Boeing has been increasing the plant's operation in Washington and hiring more employees.

In June President Obama made the statement that he didn't know all the facts about the case. It's now a month later and Obama has done little more than ask both sides to come to an agreement outside of the American court system.

On July 13 Newt Gingrich visited Boeing's new plant in Charleston SC and shortly after asked President Obama to lift all union complaints and the NLRB suit against Boeing. Gingrich says the president has the power to halt the case immediately.

All indications point to a gridlock stalemate. It's very unlikely that Obama will use his power to end the issue – especially considering that the unions are the very backbone of Democrat support. Boeing itself asked the administrative judge for a dismissal of the case and was denied. Judge Clifford H. Anderson said that both sides of the complaint largely depend on evidence and that neither side has produced much of anything.

Any non-biased source can see that Boeing is at a crossroads and have had it with IAM and the NLRB. It's also obvious that we're looking at a long court battle. If the NLRB wins the case, Boeing will still expand operations just not in America.

What a shame. It's a true American tragedy to find that we live in a time when the country itself limits a company's growth and expansion. That's not the way it was supposed to be and it's a great magnification of greed and control. The Boeing employees were offered a very stable, safe, lifelong career that they and their families could be proud of.

It's human nature to be dissatisfied. It's what keeps us growing and moving forward. But, at some point gratitude, the future of every American, and the contentment of your family should take the front seat.

Update: July 14, 2011 – A previous Boeing order for thirty-five 737s was canceled. The value of the order was $2.8 billion. The company placing the order (Dubai Aerospace) would not respond to requests for comment.

Published July 15, 2011, 2:44 p.m.

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Boeing, South Carolina, IAM union and 160,000 Jobs

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