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It looks like a temper tantrum

Union Machinists hold a rally a night before their last contract vote, which they voted to reject. On Thursday, union leaders rejected a "best and final" offer from Boeing to keep the 777X in the Puget Sound region. (KIRO Radio Photo/Tim Haeck)

This, of course, plays right into the hands of people who’ve argued unions are out of touch with economic reality because it sure looks that way from the outside.

On Thursday night, Boeing Machinists rejected ‘best and final’ counteroffer to keep the 777X in Washington.

But you know me, I’m willing to withhold judgment until I hear the other side.

So let’s hear it. Last night’s union statement left a lot out.

And given how important the aerospace industry is to this region, the union has the same responsibility that Boeing does to explain itself.

We know Boeing’s explanation: The airplane business is a global business, China is on the march; we have to get our costs down, we want to hedge our bets. We’ve told the region what it must do, and if it doesn’t, our “Plan B” is to move jobs.

It’s a hurtful message, but at least we know where the company stands. “Take the $15,000 bonus and the highest manufacturing pay in America, or we will move the jobs to a place that wants them.” And they have the leverage to do it. And they have done it. And about 15 other states are begging them to do it.

And now we await the union’s message.

Are you saying, “Go ahead, move the jobs?” Are you saying you don’t care about the other jobs that depend on your jobs?

Do you have some secret leverage that we’re not aware of – a secret plan to bring Airbus in to outbid Boeing for the aerospace workforce? A secret plan to unionize the non-union workers in South Carolina? A secret plan to start a worker-owned commercial airplane company to compete with Boeing?

Or do you really, really believe that you can’t be replaced? Because if you do, go back and read how 25 years ago Detroit didn’t think there was any way the Japanese could build a decent car.

You may think Boeing can’t train out-of-state workers to be as good as you are, but they clearly will try. And looking at the number of states begging for the work – to call it a bluff? Signed legislation is not a bluff.

Those young Puget Sound workers you’re trying to protect? Their skills will atrophy as the cutting edge technologies are moved – which means if they’re smart, they’ll move too, so they can stay sharp. It’s not the kind of skill you can learn online.

Like I say – maybe the leadership has thought all this through. So they need to reassure us that they have – tell the region what the plan is!

This isn’t just about your jobs — it’s about the continued existence of the City of Everett as we know it and maybe the City of Renton, and a lot of people in between.

I’ll tell you what it looks like from the outside: a temper tantrum. A temper tantrum thrown by workers who’ve been living in a protective bubble that most working people don’t enjoy.

You say your bosses make too much – well, so does Robinson Cano. If you don’t like it, push for a state income tax. Or a higher federal income tax. Or vote for more socialists.

But turning down an offer that includes a $15,000 cash bonus, and other improvements that you got even after Boeing said the last offer was it?

It makes me think someone’s been passing the pot around and inhaling a little too deeply.

Read more:
Boeing Machinists reject ‘best and final’ counteroffer

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