Machinists: Stop using our jobs as bargaining chips

The Boeing Co.’s recent moves to transfer work out of Puget Sound to South Carolina, Utah and China underscore the need for the Washington Legislature to attach accountability measures to the $8.7 billion tax breaks that the company and its suppliers now enjoy in Washington state.

EverettProtestSignThat was the message Machinists Union District Lodge 751 President Jon Holden had for his union’s members recently.

“If Boeing and its suppliers can’t keep jobs in Washington state, then they don’t need to keep all of the tax dollars we offered them to grow and maintain the aerospace industry here,” Holden wrote in his monthly letter to IAM 751 members.

The letter is included in this month’s edition of the AeroMechanic newsletter, which is now available online.

The newsletter includes a report on how several hundred members of District 751 and SPEEA (the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) protested outside Boeing’s Everett and Renton factories during the Sept. 23 visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The protests “weren’t so much about China as they were about Boeing’s ongoing efforts to siphon away jobs from Washington aerospace workers in general and our union’s members in particular,” Holden wrote.

The 737 completion center to be built in China will take away work from IAM 751 members in Renton and Seattle, Holden said.

In addition, Boeing in September celebrated the groundbreaking of a South Carolina research and development center that will focus on automating work now down by union members in Washington state, and also celebrated a milestone in the operation of a factory in Utah that now does work that used by be done by union members at Boeing’s Frederickson plant near Puyallup.

In addtion, Boeing supplier Toray Composites announced it would expand its U.S. operations in South Carolina, instead of near its current Frederickson plant.

Boeing and Toray both are receiving money from the $8.7 billion tax incentive package that Washington’s Legislature approved in 2013, with the goal of growing the state’s aerospace industry. That’s “infuriating,” Holden wrote.

The companies claim that the out-of-state moves won’t take away jobs from Washington state, but Holden called that a “half truth.”

RentonProtestSignsEven before the latest announcements, Boeing’s employment had fallen by 3,000 people in Washington state since 2013, and with string of news about more work leaving the state, the number of lost jobs seems likely to grow higher, he wrote.

“At the very least, Boeing is making it impossible for us and for our communities to share in the growth of the aerospace industry, despite the fact that we have invested so much — our time, our energy, our expertise and our tax dollars — to make this growth happen,” Holden wrote.

It’s time to reconsider the terms of the aerospace tax incentives, Holden wrote. “If $8.7 billion worth of financial incentive isn’t enough to induce Boeing and its suppliers to grow in our state, then we as taxpaying citizens have no choice but to determine what form of accountability we must pass to keep these jobs from leaving.”

Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 52 employers across Washington and California.

Think you’d be better of working under a union contract? Click here to talk to an IAM 751 representative about how to join the Machinists Union.

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