Community rally: ‘Today we are all Machinists in this struggle’


SEATTLE (Nov. 19, 2013) — Several hundred union and community members turned out in the pouring rain at Seattle’s Westlake Park on Monday to support and thank Machinists Union members who work at Boeing for standing up for middle class jobs in Washington. They also called on Boeing to make the smart, rational business decision of building the new 777X jet here in Washington state.

“We gather to say ‘thank you’ to the Machinists for standing up for community standards,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “And we gather today to say we want to build the 777x in Washington state, we can build the 777x in Washington state, and we should build the 777x in Washington state.”

Last week, members of Machinists (IAM) District  Council 751 voted by a two-to-one margin to reject a long-term contract proposed by Boeing that would have replaced their pensions with 401(k)-type savings plans, significantly increased their health care costs, and slowed wage progression. In exchange for all the takeaways, the company had said it would build the new 777X, a derivative of the highly successful 777 built here in Everett, in Washington state. The Machinists existing contract doesn’t expire until 2016.

Speaking on behalf of a group of Machinists attending Monday’s rally, IAM 751 Everett Business Representative Jon Holden expressed gratitude for the community support.

“Today we are all Machinists in this struggle,” Holden said. “We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to protect the things achieved (in previous contracts). Those who build the 777 today are the key to the 777X’s future success. Our quality, reliability and productivity are second to none. We are proud to stand with you because truly your fight is our fight, and our fight is your fight.”

Amid chants of “we are union, we are community, we are one” and “build it here,” the raucous crowd heard from a series of representatives of various unions and community groups expressing their solidarity with the Machinists.

Said Robby Stern of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action:

These workers are the best airplane manufacturers in the world. We want the 777X built in Washington and we hope that Boeing corporate management will come to their senses and engage in genuine collective bargaining with the Machinists that demonstrates the respect for the Machinists that they so rightly deserve.

Boeing just had the biggest weekend of sales ever recorded. They are not hurting, management is beyond well-paid, and their stock is skyrocketing. That Machinists made all of this success possible. Thank you Machinists for being an example for all of us.

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