Self-inflicted ‘union busting’

by lestro

It seems the Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Media and the new V Airlines, has no problem saying what no Boeing worker would dare even think:

“The strike hurt hundreds of thousands of our passengers,” Branson told reporters. “It messed up Virgin Atlantic, it messed up Virgin Blue in Australia, it ruined people’s Christmas holidays. It was absolutely and utterly ghastly.”

He continued, “If union leaders and management can’t get their act together to avoid strikes, we’re not going to come back here again. We’re already thinking, ‘Would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?’ It’s that serious.”

Nice job Unions! Thanks to you, Boeing’s chief rival was able to play some catch-up and Boeing has already this year announced thousands of job cuts, partially to make up for revenue lost during the 57-day strike, which began on Sept. 3, right about the time the economy was circling the bowl and just a few weeks before it totally tanked, taking over every news cycle and the presidential campaign.

And what did they get while they were bringing down the company and regional economy?

The average Machinist base wage for the past year was about $54,000, and with overtime about $65,000.

Extrapolating from data provided previously by Boeing, at the end of the new four-year contract in 2012, the average base annual salary will rise to about $73,000, and with overtime included about $85,000.

For the record, the average national salary is about $30,000 and the average salary of a machinist is $45,000.

So they went on strike because $25,000 above the national salary wasn’t enough?  Way to strike yourselves out of jobs.  You had good jobs with good benefits, but you wanted more.

Union officials had a long list of issues with the final offer from Boeing: inadequate compensation increases, especially for workers lower down on the wage ladder; an insufficient pension increase; costs added to the medical-benefits plan; and refusal to commit to reducing outsourcing of future work from local factories.

Now, one of the customers himself is actually blaming the unions for his company not coming back to Boeing.

And the company doesn’t need that, especially not this year.

Indeed, Boeing has started 2009 losing more orders than it has won. Boeing said Thursday it won 18 orders in January and lost 31 through cancellations.

Branson is not the only one pointing out how the union managed to take aim and fire into its own feet:

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., predicts Boeing will eventually pull up its commercial airplane stakes in Seattle and follow in the auto industry’s path to Southern states with weaker unions and right-to-work laws that diminish union power.

… Analyst Joseph Campbell, with Barclays Capital, agrees. “Boeing is now more likely than less likely to take work out of the Pacific Northwest and put it somewhere else where they think people will be more grateful,’’ he said. “It’s not vengeful — just business.”

Thanks, unions! Way to eat your young!


7 Responses to Self-inflicted ‘union busting’

  1. djcnor says:

    And what are equivalent jobs paying elsewhere, even outside the US? Some folks have skills that they can pick up and take elsewhere, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t if their US union doesn’t see them as well taken care of as the foreign union would.

    And what percentage of Boeing’s cost is those salaries? What percentage is other things? Have those costs been kept down?

    There are so many unasked questions.

  2. forkboy says:

    While proud to be a loony member of the Left, I too have had a more difficult time understanding the mentality of the union representing the machinists at Boeing. It seems that every time a new plane is developed and orders come in, the union goes on strike.

    I have no problem with assembly line workers wanting a fair share of the pie, but they seem to be doing pretty well compared to their brethren across the country. Although I understand that the cost of living in the Pacific NW is fairly steep when compared to broad swaths of middle America.

    I guess I’m having a harder time feeling sympathy for these guys when compared to the UAW members in Detroit, etc., who, oddly enough, seem to take a lot more heat and I don’t understand why. Yes, UAW members are paid far more than the job warrants when one looks at requirements (education or skill set), but it wasn’t UAW members who decided that GM, Chrysler and Ford should build crappy cars compared to the Japanese. It wasn’t the UAW that suggested which cars should be built, how they should be designed or the fact that these companies, especially GM, continue to use engine technology that is rather outdated compared to their Asian counterparts.

  3. Tarts says:

    Unions always mess up everything. There was a time and place where these were needed and that time and place has past. Now most unions have become pork barrel projects.

  4. djcnor says:

    Swallow that “talking point”. Never check out facts. Facts like the same corporations that operate in the US operate in other first world countries and give their workers much more in the way of hours, vacations, benefits, etc. etc. etc. Why? Stronger unions.

  5. harvero says:

    A work environment dictated by unions is not a meritocracy.

  6. djcnor says:

    It’s better than the tyranny that exists without them.

  7. lestro says:

    djcnor –

    Unions have certainly done great things on the past and helped bring forth such programs and policies as the minimum wage and the 40-hour work week, as well as child labor laws.

    But in this particular case, there is little doubt that the strike to get more money the machinists – blue collar workers generally trained by the company to do specific tasks – is costing the company business and costing the company jobs.

    That is the point. This is a union drunk on its own power. It doesn’t matter what the percentage of costs are when you consider that 7 percent of the workforce is unemployed and would kill for a job that pays $25,000 above the average wage…

    This is not to say all unions are bad or unnecessary or anything like that, just that the Boeing Machinist Union Strike of 2008 was the union shooting themselves in the foot.

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