‘IAM was a big deal on this,’ Boeing CEO says
EVERETT — The hard work of Machinists was a key factor in Boeing’s win in the KC-X tanker bidding, said both the union’s district president — and Boeing’s CEO.
For 10 years, “we have worked hand-in-hand on this issue – on the political front, on the shop floor — and together we made this happen,” said Wroblewski, speaking to thousands of Boeing workers who’d gathered on the Everett factory floor on Friday to celebrate the signing of a contract to provide 179 KC-46A refueling tankers to the U.S. Air Force.
Machinists Union members in Puget Sound and across the country — including those working for Boeing and its suppliers in Kansas and at engine-builder Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut — lobbied hard for years on Boeing’s behalf, Wroblewski noted. They were “relentless,” he said, “attending countless rallies, sending letters and e-mails and calling friends around the country to build support for an American-made tanker.”
And in Everett, union members worked hard with management to “wring efficiencies out of the production line,” Wroblewski continued. The result was that Boeing was able to submit a lower bid than its rival, EADS, and thus “bring this tanker home,” he said.
The first KC-46A deliveries are still years away, but “I know everyone one of our Machinists Union members is ready, willing and able to start delivering for the Air Force today,” Wroblewski said. “We are excited to share our expertise and deliver the best tanker to our military.”
Boeing Co. Chief Executive Jim McNerney acknowledged the union’s contribution to securing the $35 billion contract. “The IAM was a big deal on this thing, a big deal,” he said, addressing Wroblewski directly. “We’ve got to keep coming together like this.”
And Congressman Jay Inslee, a Democrat who was one of the strongest supporters of the Boeing tanker bid, called on both labor and management not to forget the lessons learned during the fight to secure the tanker contract. “Let’s look back to this moment,” he said. “When we work together as a team, we win as a team.”
Wroblewski agreed. “It’s been a long road, but we traveled it together,” he said. “This demonstrates what can be accomplished when the company and union truly work together.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., Seattle-based Machinists District Lodge 751 now represents more than 26,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, it negotiated contracts with 22 of those employers without a single workday lost to strikes.
Follow our latest tweets at http://twitter.com/IAM751