Unions: Working together brought tanker win

SEATTLE – Leaders of the unions representing Boeing workers around Puget Sound — Tom McCarty of SPEEA and Tom Wroblewski of the Machinists Union — issued this statement last week, congratulating elected officials, Boeing management and the company’s skilled union workers for their recent win in the KC-46A tanker contract. It was published March 12 in The Herald newspaper in Everett:

District 751 President Tom Wroblewski

“When people come together in a common cause, they are capable of achieving great things. The recent events in Egypt are an amazing example.

“And, closer to home, so was the Boeing Co.’s victory in the U.S. Air Force tanker contract.

“For 10 years, a coalition of leaders from business, labor, government and the community worked together on behalf of Boeing’s bid. Despite setbacks and disappointments – and in spite of some very serious disagreements among ourselves – we held together, united in the belief that Boeing’s proposed tanker is the best option for America, our armed forces, our region and the members in our individual organizations.

“The March 4 announcement that EADS had decided not to contest the Pentagon’s decision in favor of Boeing means we finally can move forward to build these aircraft. It is time to celebrate, and to give thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

“We must start with our Congressional delegation, in particular U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who were stalwarts from the beginning, but also Sen. Maria Cantwell and Reps. Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, who provided vital leadership all along the way.

“Gov. Chris Gregoire deserves our thanks for successfully rallying support from her fellow governors nationwide.

“We are grateful for the help of the Washington Aerospace Partnership and its co-chairmen: Bob Drewel of the Puget Sound Regional Council, Tayloe Washburn of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and Rick Bender, the former president of the Washington State Labor Council. We thank you for rallying your constituents to our cause, and look forward to working with you again on projects to benefit the people of our region.

“We’d like to thank the many local government officials who stood forward in support of an American-built tanker, in particular Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon and King County Executive Dow Constantine, who all showed leadership on this issue.

“We would especially like to thank our brothers and sisters in the labor community, especially the international leadership of our unions, Tom Buffenbarger for the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers and Gregory Junemann for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. They helped organize and inspire support for the Boeing bid among workers across America, and those workers in turn made their voices heard. For that we’re thankful.

“We don’t say this often enough, but the leaders of the Boeing Co. itself are deserving of our thanks. We know it wasn’t easy to continue pursuing the tanker contract through the long years of controversy and it must have been tempting to quit. But your decade-long determination to do what was best for America’s military, taxpayers and economy has paid off, and we congratulate you.

SPEEA President Tom McCarty

“Of course, the finest aerospace workers in the world are right here in Puget Sound, and we are proud to represent them. We believe it was those workers who made the difference for Boeing in the final bidding. Thanks to them, Boeing was able to reconfigure the 767 assembly line in Everett in a way that lowered production costs – and thus lowered the price Boeing was able to offer on its tankers. At the same time, thousands of members from both our unions wrote letters and e-mails, made phone calls and attended rallies to gather political support for the Boeing bid. We know that also made a difference.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of work to do between now and 2017, when the first 18 KC-46A tankers are due for delivery. For starters, we need to recruit, hire and train a new generation of Boeing employees, young men and women who will design, build and deliver the next generation of Boeing commercial and military aircraft, carrying our legacy of excellence into the future. Our unions are committed to helping in that effort.

“We can do this. With the tanker, we’ve proven that labor and management can work hand-in-hand with government to benefit our company, our communities and our people, and with this example, we believe we can do it again.

“Thanks again to everyone who helped bring home this tanker victory for America — particularly the union women and men who come to work at Boeing every day with such skill and dedication. The products we build have defended America in the past and now will continue to do so for generations to come.

“Now let’s go build some airplanes.”

Tom McCarty is president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001. Tom Wroblewski is president and directing business representative, District Lodge 751, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

Follow America’s leading aerospace unions on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IAM751 and http://twitter.com/speea

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