Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Boeing lays off more workers. Concessions lead to more concessions.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So Boeing is about to layoff close to 5000 positions. Apparently, it is doing this as investors are getting nervous as rich customers are looking to buy less expensive jets which may curb profits the WSJ reports. Yet a little over a year ago, Boeing workers rejected a concessionary contract only to have it forced down their throats through some unscrupulous methods from the labor hierarchy atop the IAM. I wrote about that here, and I spoke about it in the video below that I published at the time.  We should remind ourselves that Boeing also received some $9 billion in subsidies from the state of Washington to entice them to stay in that state rather than export the jobs to the non unionized South. So much for the vibrancy of the private sector that taps taxpayer money whenever investor's profits are threatened.

The labor hierarchy, in conjunction with the bosses and their mass media,  launched an all out assault against the Boeing workers who dared oppose concessions and the phony contract was eventually voted in.  Some Boeing workers, appealed the IAM International's actions to the NLRB.

So where do concessions get us?  The employers do not fear the labor hierarchy who they rely upon to suppress any movement from within the ranks of organized labor that might threaten the relationship they have built with the employers based on labor peace.  During this period, Kshama Sawant, the newly elected socialist councilor to the Seattle City Council, suggested at one point that the Boeing workers should take over the factory and run it themselves. This was a good suggestion and Sawant's time, and the campaign Socialist Alternative has built around her would have been well spent linking the minimum wage campaign to the Boeing workers struggles and strengthening it that way. More fruitful I think than endorsing and campaigning for the Democrat Bernie Sanders to win the presidency in the upcoming elections. Perhaps this has happened but I have not heard much of it from SA with all the euphoria about Bernie and the historical shift as Socialist Alternative endorses a Democratic Party candidate for the first time.

This is the same old story repeated time after time. If we accept that labor power, that workers must compete in the marketplace for who can work cheaper and with the least hindrance to profits, then we will inevitably continue to decline. Concessions lead to only one thing, more concessions.  The labor tops are not concerned about this as the concessions they force on their members in order to help the bosses out do not apply to them. They do not have to labor under the disastrous contracts they tell their members are necessary if we are to keep our jobs. As we can see, we lose our jobs anyway, if not to attrition, layoffs or moves to the Southern US, then they get shipped abroad. 

It always pays to reject the idea that workers and bosses are on the same side (The Team Concept) and fight back. Even if we lose a particular battle we lose less, there is less demoralization than passivity and defeat brings, lessons are learned and we move forward. Here are my comments from the events surrounding the Boeing contract of late 2013 early 2014.

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