Machinists testify in support of tax accountability bill

OLYMPIA — Washington’s Legislature needs to act now to keep more aerospace industry jobs from leaving the state, Machinists Union District Lodge 751 officers told the House Finance Committee on Jan. 19.

The Machinists urged lawmakers to pass House Bill 2638, which would require the Boeing Co. to keep specified numbers of jobs in the state in order to receive the full benefit of the $8.7 billion tax cut the Legislature approved in November 2013.

Under the current proposal, Boeing would have to give back half of the annual tax break it would otherwise receive should its total statewide employment fall below 79,250 workers. It would have to give back all of it if employment fell below 78,250.

Any money Boeing gave back would be funneled into public schools.

Boeing reported having 79,238 Washington state employees as of Dec. 31, 2015 — a loss of 4,057 workers since the nation’s largest corporate tax incentives were signed into law.

holden robinson talkRep. June Robinson (D-Everett) is the bill’s prime sponsor, along with 11 other Democrats – and two Republicans, Rep. Richard DeBolt of Tacoma and Rep. Cary Condotta of East Wenatchee.

Boeing has moved more than 4,000 jobs out of state since the tax cut was signed into law, and there’s absolutely nothing in the law to discourage the company from shipping even more work away, the Machinists said at the Jan. 19 hearing.

“If the current legislation is left alone,” said IAM 751 President Jon Holden, “we will continue to see our Washington state jobs used as bargaining chips to secure tax incentives elsewhere. Currently, we are the only state that does not have a jobs requirement tied to our incentives.”

Holden led the delegation of Machinists who testified alongside members of SPEEA and other supporters about the impact Boeing’s Washington state job cuts are having on their lives and their familes.

District 751 supports the use of tax incentives as a tool to maintain and grow the kind of middle-class jobs that build communities, Holden told the Finance Committee.

But the current aerospace incentives aren’t working, he said. Boeing has moved thousands of jobs out of Washington, even though it is going through a period of “record profits, record deliveries and record production of airplanes.”

Ira Carterman, the president of Machinists Union Local Lodge 751-E, described how Boeing’s decision to move work to Oklahoma has devastated the shop where he works in Kent.

He had been part of a team of six electronics technicians before Boeing sent their work to Oklahoma City, where it is reaping millions of dollars for “creating” new jobs.

Two of his fellow electronics techs have already lost their jobs, Carterman said, “and two of us were declared ‘surplus’ in November. Next month, the lab will have only two, if nothing changes.”

The engineering team that used to support the electronics lab has been gutted, he said.

“This group was told their jobs would be relocated to Oklahoma City,” Carterman said. Fourteen of the 15 engineers declined to move. A few found other jobs with Boeing, but the rest left the company.

“In 2003, when the Legislature approved the first tax break for Boeing, worth $3.2 billion, I took the day off work, without pay, to come to Olympia to lobby in support of those tax breaks, because I thought they would provide secure, family-wage, tax-paying jobs,” he said.

“Today I’m back to tell you that this is about corporate greed, and power,” Carterman continued. “As a union, we cower to no one, but we need our legislators to fight for Washington state, its residents and taxpayers.”

robley testifySimilarly, Robley Evans, the president of Machinists Union Local Lodge 751-F, told the panel that Boeing had eliminated 10 percent of the jobs in his shop in Auburn over the past two years. Boeing managers are talking openly about further job cuts this year, he said.

“Boeing broke the deal,” Evans told the lawmakers. “The agreement with the state was to ‘maintain and grow’ our aerospace workforce, and Boeing isn’t doing either one. We need the tax breaks to be tied to job numbers.”

IAM 751 Legislative Director Larry Brown said that Washington state will have to compete to build all future Boeing airplanes. But the state has a huge advantage, because the Legislature has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into workforce training programs.

“You have created programs at the community and technical colleges, funded apprenticeship programs, created a student loan program for the Washington Aerospace Technology and Research Center and increased slots for engineering programs at the state’s public colleges,” Brown noted.

Yet all those training dollars will go to waste if Boeing continues to move work to other states in order to qualify for their tax incentive packages, he said.

“While other states require jobs in exchange for tax breaks, so must we,” Brown said. “Otherwise, we are at a competitive disadvantage.”

“Let’s not pay Boeing,” added Carterman, “to move work and jobs to other nations and other states.”

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.

Click here to tell your representatives in Olympia to support Aerospace Tax Incentive Accountability!



3 Responses to “Machinists testify in support of tax accountability bill”
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  2. […] said District 751 President Jon Holden. “This is why we focused so much energy on trying to get job number guarantees for the $8.7 billion in aerospace tax incentives that our citizens are […]

  3. […] said District 751 President Jon Holden. “This is why we focused so much energy on trying to get job number guarantees for the $8.7 billion in aerospace tax incentives that our citizens are […]

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