Machinists Leaders And Boeing Negotiated Landmark Agreement


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Machinists Leaders And Boeing Negotiate Landmark Agreement

By Daniel Baxter

December 11, 2011 - In April National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Boeing, charging the company with illegal retaliation against union demands. The NLRB accused Boeing of taking the 787 Dreamliner work from Washington State and moving it to South Carolina, a right-to-work state.

This would allow Boeing to strip the union of its powers and pay cheaper wages at a non union shop. May 2011, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon stated, ?Contrary to certain public statements made in recent weeks, there is nothing remarkable or unprecedented about the complaint issued against the Boeing Company on April 20."

The NLRB which is an independent agency of the United States government is charged with conducting elections for labor union representation, and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Solomon further stated, ?The complaint involves matters of fact and law that are not unique to this case, and it was issued only after a thorough investigation in the field, a further careful review by our attorneys in Washington, and an invitation by me to the parties to present their case and discuss the possibility of a settlement. Only then did I authorize the complaint alleging that certain statements and decisions by Boeing officials were discriminatory under our statute.

Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican and Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, stated, ?The need for congressional action has never been more urgent. It is time for the Senate to stand up for our workforce with a bill to curb the board?s powers.? The case against Boeing had spilled over into the 2012 presidential election, with the GOP calling for the dismantle of the NLRB. A Republican backed measure to undermine the NLRB authority was passed in the House on November 30, 2011. 

On Friday the NLRB withdrew the complaint against Boeing at the request of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) which represents more than 35,000 Boeing workers, ending a case that exacerbated business and government tensions. This decision came just after Boeing agreed with the union to create several thousand more jobs in the Puget Sound. Of course the GOP has now put its spin on it. 

2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Ron Paul stated, ?I have long been an advocate for the rights of workers to work without interference by big government, often acting as facilitator for big labor. My unblemished voting record on the issue of right to work, according to the National Right To Work Committee, is a testament to that fact.? 


?Hearing that the NLRB decided to stop pursuing its ongoing harassment of Boeing was welcomed news. I would like to think this is more than just a political move by the Obama Administration with an election year looming, but experience tells me otherwise. The idea that government bureaucrats, acting to empower union officials, would try to stop a private company from building a new plant is an affront to the very principles of economic liberty this country was founded upon. These are principles I have pledged to uphold my entire career.? 

A key figure in the negotiations that led to the landmark agreement between the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and the Boeing Company welcomed the vote by members to ratify the accord and predicted additional benefits beyond the terms of the contract. ?I?m confident we?ve turned an important corner in the 76-year relationship between Boeing and the IAM,? said IAM Vice President Rich Michalski. ?Both sides are committed to maintaining the high levels of communications and cooperation that produced this agreement.? 

While resolution of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case against the Boeing Company was not specifically addressed in the terms of the new contract, the IAM declared it would consider the matter settled once the contract was ratified and the new job security provisions were in place. ?I have contacted the NLRB to advise them of the ratification results and requested they initiate the appropriate steps to withdraw the complaint without delay,? said Michalski. ?Despite an unprecedented level of harassment, intimidation and partisan political pressure, the NLRB and its officers measured up to the highest standard of grace under pressure. They deserve the thanks and admiration of every law-abiding American.? 

NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said, ?The union asked to withdraw the charge following the ratification of a four-year collective bargaining agreement between its members and Boeing earlier this week. Based on that request, the administrative law judge presiding over the case dismissed the complaint and remanded the case to our regional office in Seattle for further processing... Regional Director Richard Ahearn approved the union?s written request to withdraw the charge, and the case is now closed.? 


?After we issued complaint in April, and as the trial began in June, the parties came to realize that their mutual success required a new approach. The result is a contract that helps guarantee their success and creates job security for workers. I am pleased that the collective bargaining process has succeeded and that the parties have begun a promising new chapter in their relationship.? ?There is job security in the Washington area, there is also job security in the North Charleston area.?

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