Union asks Boeing CEO to pull out of conference

SEATTLE — Machinists District Lodge 751 in Seattle is calling on Boeing Co. Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney to cancel his company’s participation in a conference aimed at encouraging Washington state companies to relocate to Mexico.

“Given that you are chairman of President Obama’s President’s Exports Council, we feel it is incredibly inappropriate for your company to be involved in this effort to undermine America’s aerospace manufacturing industry,” wrote the union’s district president, Tom Wroblewski, in a letter sent to McNerney on Wednesday.

“Having a Boeing regional director actively working on behalf of Mexican companies to take jobs away from Americans is contradictory to the stated aims of the Export Council, and we ask you to end Boeing’s involvement immediately,” he added.

Furthermore, Wroblewski noted, McNerney himself last week delivered a speech to the Wings Club in New York, in which he spoke about how excessive outsourcing has drained the talent out of America’s manufacturing industries.

“One way to reverse this trend is to stop cooperating with those who seek to take more manufacturing jobs out of the country,” the union leader wrote.

MexicoNow magazine is organizing a Dec. 2 conference at the Hilton Hotel in SeaTac to encourage Washington state companies to relocate factories to Mexico.

The event’s Website touts Mexico as “the next frontier” for the global aerospace industry, and promises that Washington state aerospace companies who attend the conference will get to “interact with Mexico’s aerospace products plant managers.”

The event is similar in concept to two conferences that have been proposed in Wichita, Kan., over the past year. Both were canceled after Machinists Union members there threatened widespread protests.

Machinists Union members here plan to protest at the Seattle event as well, and are asking for the support of other trade unionists representing workers all across Washington, Wroblewski said.

The union also plans protests outside the Puget Sound offices of all companies helping to put on the conference – including Boeing’s headquarters complex in Renton. The union won’t be striking, and the marchers will be volunteers taking part on their own time, Wroblewski stressed.

“Clearly, the last thing you or I want to see is Machinists marching with signs outside Longacres,” Wroblewski said in his letter to McNerney. “But this issue is too big for this union to ignore. As you have acknowledged, America’s economic recovery hinges upon increasing the sales of U.S.-made products overseas. And as you stated last week, the talent drain caused by outsoucing is causing long-term damage to our nation’s economy. To maximize the benefit to the U.S. economy, we must minimize the outsourcing of American manufacturing.

“America needs jobs, and not just any jobs,” he said. “Good-paying aerospace manufacturing jobs are vital, if this nation is ever to recover from this economic crisis. That’s why we’ve fought so hard on your behalf to ensure Boeing wins the tanker deal, and that’s why we’re just saying no to Mexico. I’m asking you to join us, to work together in making both our industry and our nation stronger.”

Originally formed in Seattle in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District 751 now represents 25,500 working men and women at 42 employers across Washington, Oregon and California.

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