Union: Boeing’s ‘spinning the truth’ on health care

SEATTLE — The Boeing Co. is trying to mislead its unionized employees over the potential for increased future health care costs, the president of Machinists District Lodge 751 said.

“It’s flat-out wrong for anyone to assume that Boeing will ram huge health care increases down our throats in 2012,” Tom Wroblewski, the union’s district president, wrote in a letter to his members. Executives in Chicago are “trying to spin the truth, and I’d like to set the record straight.”

“The great advantage to having a union and a collective bargaining agreement is that we can say ‘no’ to unreasonable demands from our employers,” he wrote. ” And clearly, any move that would take hundreds of dollars each month out of your pockets is unreasonable.”

Wroblewski sent the letter to members on Wednesday, the same day that Boeing announced a quarterly profit of $837 million, and told Wall Street that its near-term future looks even brighter because it can deliver more airplanes to meet growing airline demand — something possible only because of the skill and experience of its unionized Puget Sound production workers.

Wroblewski’s letter comes in response to the news that Boeing’s corporate managers in Chicago have decided to dramatically increase the amounts that non-union workers companywide are being forced to contribute to their health insurance.

In St. Louis, for example, non-union workers were told their deductables are being raised by 50 percent.

At the same time, Boeing managers in Puget Sound have been pulling workers into meetings to tell them that union workers will also have to take similarly large increases when their contracts expire in 2012.

Boeing proposals to gut health care benefits for Machinists have been a major factor in the last two rounds of contract talks and they’re likely to be an issue again in 2012. Looking ahead to the next round of talks, Wroblewski said the union has “ideas to lower the expense while improving the level of service.”

“I look forward to sharing them at the bargaining table in 2012,” he said.

Republicans — like Dino Rossi — are trying to make the Boeing announcement a political issue, saying that union workers will be subject to the health care reform law’s taxes on “Cadillac” health plans. But Wroblewski dismissed that notion as well.

“Based on the latest data Boeing gave us, the company would have to more than double what it spends on our health care before Boeing would be subject to that tax,” he wrote. “It’s a non-issue.”

And Wroblewski also noted that Boeing has decided to exempt its non-union South Carolina employees from the health care increases — thus giving Boeing’s newest workers preferential treatment over those who for decades have worked hard to make the company a profitable global leader. Enjoy it for now, he wrote: “I’d just remind our Carolina colleagues that without a union contract, their pay and benefits are at the mercy of Chicago, and subject to change whenever the company needs to spruce up its quarterly earnings report.”

Wroblewski reminded Boeing CEO Jim McNerney that he had pledged just weeks ago to work toward a better relationship with the unions at Boeing. “In that same spirit, we’re ready to work with Boeing to reduce the cost of our health care,” he wrote.

But the union is committed to maintaining quality health care benefits for its members, Wroblewski concluded. “For the past two years, you’ve done your best to save Boeing from its own corporate blunders, and you have earned every one of your union-negotiated benefits,” he wrote. “You’re first-rate workers and we won’t accept a second-class deal.”

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/iambuildingcommunity

2 Responses to “Union: Boeing’s ‘spinning the truth’ on health care”
  1. Mike says:

    That looks like a PW4000 in the picture there

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] nearly as important as what he and his Chicago managers do, he said. And with last month’s threats of steep health-care cost increases for union workers in 2012, “they certainly aren’t off to a good […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: