Special Session: Unions push for accountability

OLYMPIA — The Washington Legislature‘s special session is giving Machinists Union District Lodge 751 and SPEEA more time to convince legislators about the need to hold the Boeing Co. and the rest of the state’s aerospace industry accountable for how they use $8.7 billion in tax breaks.

ReceptionLarryChart“We are steadily picking up support, from both Democrats and Republicans,” said IAM 751 Legislative Director Larry Brown. “It’s still an uphill battle, but we’ve come a long way.”

Gov. Jay Inslee called the Legislature back for a 30-day special session, which started April 29.

Democrats, who control the state’s House of Representatives, and Republicans, who control the Senate, are far apart on two key issues: How to pay for between $2 billion and $3 billion in education improvements mandated by both voters and the Washington State Supreme Court, plus as much as $15 billion for transportation improvements.

In this environment, there’s renewed interest in aerospace tax incentive accountability measures introduced earlier in the session, Brown said.

“The aerospace tax breaks average out to more than $300 million each year, which is enough to make a serious dent in what we need to come up with for education spending,” he said.

District 751 and SPEEA are backing two bills in Olympia:

  • House Bill 1786, which would give aerospaceĀ  companies the option of either paying their experienced workers the state’s median wage (currently $19.67 an hour) or giving back the tax breaks; and
  • House Bill 2147, which would require Boeing to maintain the number of Washington state employees it had when the current tax breaks were approved, in order to keep getting its full share of tax benefits.

District 751 and SPEEA hosted a reception for legislators on April 22. Rank-and-file members from both unions met one-on-one and in small groups with legislators to make the case for why these bills are necessary.

ReceptionLarryLopezKussyThe reception went very well, Brown said, and at the end of the evening, a number of legislators said they’d been convinced by the union members’ arguments and were now supporters of the bills.

“We’ve had a lot of Democrats supporting us from the beginning,” Brown said, “but more and more Republicans are coming around to our way of thinking.

“Accountability and fiscal responsibility are core values for most Republicans,” he continued. “When we explain to them that our state is giving away $8.7 billion with almost no strings attached, a growing number of them are more than willing to listen to our ideas.”

If you support holding Boeing and its suppliers accountable for how they use the nation’s largest corporate tax give-away, then click here to send that message to your representatives in Olympia.


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