Skilled workers are state’s aerospace advantage

The skills and experience of Washington state’s aerospace workers are going to be the key weapon as the state prepares to do battle to ensure that the next generation of Boeing aircraft is built here.

“No other state in the nation or place in the world has the concentration of aerospace talent that we have here,” said Machinists Union District Lodge 751 President Tom Wroblewski. “For generations, we’ve invented processes and pioneered techniques. We’ve got the kinds of skills that can take decades to develop.”

So as Boeing – or any other aerospace company worldwide – looks for places to expand, Washington should be “a no-brainer,” the union leader said.

“What would you chose?” Wroblewski asked. “Pour billions into a region with unproven workers or go with the proven pros who have delivered time and again?”

Wroblewski’s comments are printed in the current edition of the AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

The newsletter also contains reports of District 751’s participation at the recent Paris Air Show, where a Machinists Union delegation joined with representatives from the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace and from the state’s universities, colleges and AJAC, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.

“All of us had one message,” Wroblewski said. “Washington is the world leader in aerospace, thanks to our skilled workforce and wide range of aerospace job-training programs.”

At Paris, the union announced its strong commitment to Project Pegasus – Gov. Chris Gergoire’s campaign to ensure Boeing’s next new airplane is built in Washington – and also applauded the appointment of Tayloe Washburn to head that effort. Washburn met with the Machinists and SPEEA delegations to begin planning the state’s effort.

Washburn “gets it,” said Wroblewski. “To be successful in aerospace, you have to have business, government and labor all working together for everyone’s mutual benefit.”

To bolster Washington’s job-training programs, AJAC representatives signed two trade agreements with German companies in June. AJAC is a state-funded apprenticeship committee that is strongly supported by District 751.

The deals – with Lufthansa Training and Capable Technologies, both of Hamburg, Germany – are examples of “the kind of good that happens when business, labor and government work together for the benefit of all,” said Jesse Cote, a District 751 staff member who is AJAC’s chairman.

Meanwhile, there were significant developments in the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against Boeing for allegedly breaking federal labor law by moving 787 work to South Carolina in retaliation for strikes in Puget Sound.

On June 30, a federal judge dismissed Boeing’s attempts to have the complaint thrown out. Lawyers for the union had called Boeing’s defense “short on law but long on hyperbolic language.” Details on the ruling are included in the current AeroMechanic.

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic, you’ll find:

  • A report on how Boeing has honored some 300 Machinists working in its Everett wire shop for their outstanding performance in meeting high goals for quality;
  • A report on June’s Flight for Sight fun run in Everett, which raised more than $9,100 for Guide Dogs of America;
  • Photos from last month’s Puppy Putt 9 motorcycle event in Puget Sound, which drew 75 riders – despite a driving rain storm – and raised another $7,800 for Guide Dogs;
  • A report on the raffle sponsored by Locals 86, 1123 and 1951 in Eastern Washington, which raised another $5,270 for Guide Dogs;
  • A story about District 751’s contributions to a new endowment fund for United Way of Snohomish County;
  • An update on negotiations toward a first contract for union members working for defense contractor URS at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station; and
  • A report on the upcoming contract talks with Solid Ground, a contractor that provides services for Metro Transit in Seattle.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District 751 now represents 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.

To contact a District 751 officer for information on how a union contract could help you, click here.

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One Response to “Skilled workers are state’s aerospace advantage”
  1. georgeabney says:

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