Machinists’ skill and experience make 777 better

Machinists Union members deserve a lot of the credit for making Boeing’s 777 one of the best-selling widebody jets in commercial aviation history, the union’s district president in Seattle said.

Those same union workers are also taking steps to ensure the success – and profitability – of the program for years to come, said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

“The skill, creativity and every-day wisdom of Machinists Union members like you are saving Boeing time and money, while also making your jobs easier and safer,” Wroblewski told union members in the current edition of the AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

The monthly newsletter includes coverage of President Obama’s Feb. 17 visit to Boeing’s Everett factory. Obama met with individual Machinists on the 787 final assembly line, and talked with Wroblewski and other leaders of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers.

Much of Obama’s speech that day echoed themes that Machinists Union leaders have promoted for years, Wroblewski said: particularly in regards to the vital role manufacturing plays in America’s economy.

“When we spend our paychecks,” Wroblewski said, “we generate sales for stores and restaurants and work for every kind of service provider from tax accountants to Harley Davidson mechanics. As the President said, high-skill manufacturing workers like us ‘create jobs outside this factory.’”

And Obama’s remarks that American workers can compete and win in the global economy by providing the highest value to companies were also right on the money, Wroblewski said.

“Low-wage foreign workers often don’t provide the same high value as American workers, with our better education, training, skills and motivation,” he said.

The newsletter was published as Machinists working at Boeing were preparing to deliver the company’s 1,000th 777, which went to Middle Eastern air carrier, Emirates.

Boeing managers and Machinists Union members are working together under a letter of understanding that empowers hourly workers to develop and implement their own ideas for improving the manufacturing process.

One group in the company’s Everett factory found they could save Boeing $78,000 a year in labor costs by putting down padding to protect floor beams from being scuffed, and by replacing cheap boot socks with higher-quality versions that were less likely to fall apart and spread residue. The combination saves some 11 man-hours of time that used to be required to clean their section of the plane after they finished working in it.

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic, you can read:

  • A report on the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood, where industry leaders praised the Machinists Union and Boeing for their new cooperative relationship – and where aerospace suppliers gave the two groups their top award as a token of appreciation;
  • A recap of a reception hosted by Gov. Chris Gregoire to celebrate the cooperation between the union and Boeing, which  she said has created “a new day in aerospace;”
  • A report on the lack of cooperation shown by management at aerospace supplier Hytek Finishes in Kent, where the union is accusing the company of stalling during talks toward a first Machinist Union contract and deliberately violating the rights of workers under federal labor law;
  • An obituary for Al Seifert, who died in February after a career of nearly 70 years at Boeing in which he became a legend among the company’s tool-and-die makers;
  • A story about this year’s class of seven IAM/Boeing Apprenticeship graduates, who have completed more than 8,000 hours of comprehensive training to become journeymen craftsmen in their respective trades;
  • A story of how a District 751 member, Laura Hopkins, has been honored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell for her work as director of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee; and
  • A roundup of the volunteer work done by District 751 volunteers in February, which included building two ramps at the home of a wheelchair-bound women in Graham.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 31,000 working men and women at 45 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In December, District 751 members ratified a four-year contract extension with Boeing that ensured the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.

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


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