With the news last week that Machinists' union members employed by Boeing in Puget Sound overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract that would have meant years worth of work on the new Boeing 777X, much of the attention was focused on what it would mean for union members' future and where the work would go following their rejection.
As the long-term contract they voted down had numerous concessions, it is understandable that it would have been a hard sell to get the members to accept it. Yet, that hard sell by local union leaders did not take place.
In fact, the proposed contract was torn up by IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski, who called the contract a "piece of crap."
Now, as the work is likely heading elsewhere, more news coming out of Puget Sound that helps explain the union membership's overwhelming rejection of the deal.
According to Heraldnet.com, local union members and local union leadership were shut out of the negotiations entirely.
By all accounts, IAM leadership in Washington, D.C., and Boeing representatives kept leaders of Seattle-based District 751 in the dark about the contract talks before presenting the porposal to them less than two weeks ago. The offer called for major concessions -- including trading pensions for 401(k) plans and increasing health care costs -- in exchange for placing 777X final assembly in Everett and a $10,000 signing bonus, among other promises.
Local union leaders tried to block the Boeing proposal from even being put to a vote by the membership but were overruled by national IAM leaders. The leaders from the East Coast called the shots after that, prohibiting District 751 leaders from speaking publicly about the offer.
District 751's roughly 32,000 members were caught off guard. It appeared that the local leaders they elected were willing to give up hard-fought economic gains without member consent or similar concessions from labor leaders and Boeing executives. [Emphasis added.]
Apparently, this is not the end of the union infighting in Washington. Rather, it is only the beginning.
"Today is the eye of the hurricane -- calm after the storm. But the rest of the storm is coming," said a rank-and-file representative involved in leading District 751. The representative spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
In addition to the international union secretly negotiating behind local members' backs, that a rank-and-file representative would have to fear speaking out publicly "for fear of retaliation" goes even further to explain Boeing's union problem.
Note: If today's union bosses ever really want to know why they are "in crisis," all they need to do is look in the mirror. It is this type of backroom deal making that has caused so many of today's workers to see unions and their leaders as nothing more than parasites.
- UPDATE: Now here's a shock... Boeing may look to the MidEast after unions reject Seattle 777X plan
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted on LaborUnionReport.com.