Boeing tanker still best choice, Wroblewski says

The aerospace world saw its own form of March Madness, with all the twists and turns in the Pentagon’s nine-year effort to buy replacements for its aging KC-135 tankers.

But all the plot twists — and now, the potential 60-day deadline extension — can’t change the fact that the proposed Boeing NewGen tanker is the the right plane for America, District 751 President Tom Wroblewski wrote in his monthly column in the AeroMechanic newspaper, which is now available online.

“It doesn’t matter if the Wright Brothers themselves were to enter a bid partnered with Charles Lindberg, the Boeing KC-767 tanker, built by our District 751 members here in Puget Sound, is simply the best option for the U.S. Air Force, the American taxpayer and our nation’s economy,” Wroblewski wrote, echoing a statement that he released last week. “No matter who else is bidding — and no matter how much extra time they’re given to make their bid — that won’t change the fact that the airplanes we build are the right ones for the mission, and that we are ready today to start the work.”

Wroblewksi also took to task Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh for comments he made last month about “escalating” wages for workers in Puget Sound.

The truth is that union Machinists at Boeing’s Puget Sound plants took a four-year wage freeze, from 2004 to 2008, Wroblewski said. And even while Albaugh was speaking out against pay for hourly workers in his company, top executives were granting themselves millions of dollars in bonuses — bonuses that were triggered in large part because of the successes acheived with the 787 and 747-8 by the skilled Machinists who work for them.

“Instead of making veiled threats about your future job prospects, Mr. Albaugh should be thanking you for making his family and his future more prosperous and secure,” Wroblewski wrote.

Among the other stories in this month’s AeroMechanic are:

  • A report on District 751 flightline mechanics who are going on the road with the 747-8 flight test program. They’re facing 12-hour days in a California desert so hot it will melt the soles of a sneaker, but they say they enjoy the work and are excited at the challenge.
  • A story on the union’s efforts to find a better solution to the planned closure and demolition of the South Park Bridge, which links Seattle’s South Park community with businesses surrounding Boeing Field. The bridge is a vital piece of the city’s industrial transportation network, Wroblewski told local elected officials in a letter urging them to keep the bridge open while they develop the funds and a plan to replace it.
  • A report on a recent successful drive to organize office workers at four Sunrise Dental offices into a new IAM bargaining unit.
  • A story that quantifies the benefits Washington workers reap from union membership — namely, an advantage of $3.05 an hour in wages, plus significantly better health-care and retirement benefits.
  • A look ahead at the upcoming contract talks at Triumph Composites Systems in Spokane, where hourly workers are members of District 751.
  • A profile of Katie Burks, a retired District 751 member who spent 43 years at Boeing, starting in 1943.
  • Photos and stories of District 751 members and their families involved in community service projects across Puget Sound.

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