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Machinists District 751 shows why ‘It Pays to Be Union’

‘I’m very grateful to have this union, which has our backs,’ says member unjustly fired by Boeing. He won his job back and $157,000 in lost wages and benefits.


The following is from Machinists District Council 751:

RENTON, Wash. (July 29, 2021) — IAM District 751 scored a victory for justice on the job, as an arbitrator recently overturned yet another unjust termination from The Boeing Company. This arbitrator’s decision had broader consequences, as there were four other members in a similar situation from the same crew that we were also challenging. The arbitrator’s decision was comprehensive and critical, which led to resolution and a satisfactory agreement for the other employees. The arbitrator concluded that the company’s discipline was “not supported by reliable evidence.” This is further proof it pays to be union.

IAM 751 member Zach Musgrove was thrilled to be vindicated and return to his toolmaker job in Renton. The arbitrator’s decision declared Boeing did not have just cause to terminate him, ordered Boeing to rescind the termination and reinstate Zach as though he had never left the payroll – making him whole with lost wages and benefits, which amounted to more than $157,000.

Business Rep Robley Evans conducted an investigation, determined that all the discipline from the area was unjust and filed the grievances for all of them. When Boeing refused to reverse their decision, Robley elevated the grievance to arbitration.

IAM 751 Attorney Spencer Thal did an outstanding job representing Zach’s interests and presenting his case, which pointed out the inconsistencies in Boeing’s claims and highlighted Boeing’s failures to prove there was just cause for termination.

IAM 751 Grievance Coordinator Dan Swank provided support throughout the arbitration and then ensured Zach received the proper settlement, which included overtime hours, AMPP payments, shift differential, VIP contribution, lump sum payments, tuition reimbursement and more.

“This was an important win that is greater than myself and my crew. When I came back to work, it was a victory for all of us hourly employees,” said Musgrove. “This win for ‘the little guy’ doesn’t happen that often at Boeing. Our story has restored faith in the process for many members because they got to see the system work. Members realize they can challenge unjust discipline and have confidence that our union will be there when we need them.”

“I’m very grateful to have this union, which has our backs,” he added. “In over two years, I never did anything alone. There was an incredible amount of transparency and information sharing. This team approach shows it pays to be union.”

Musgrove served as team lead on the tooling production assist (PA) team in Renton and had no previous discipline. In the arbitration, Boeing noted that he had been recognized as someone who goes above and beyond, always performed outstanding work for the 737 program, knows how to plan and prioritize work (including completing out of sequence work), and is smart, effective and decisive. Receiving praise from Boeing — even a couple weeks before they terminated him — made it even more baffling why he was terminated without warning and/or being given an opportunity to modify behavior Boeing suddenly found unacceptable. The arbitrator concluded Boeing did not have just cause to terminate Musgrove.

Musgrove is happy to be back on the job and plans to continue utilizing his union-negotiated education benefits. Since hiring into Boeing, he has used IAM 751’s rich contractual education benefits to earn two Associate of Arts Degrees, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington, and is working to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from St. Martin’s University – showing his incredible drive. While waiting for his arbitration case, Zach continued his schooling and should complete his engineering degree in the next year. He encourages other members to take advantage of these education benefits and noted, once they complete a degree as an IAM member, be sure to submit the degree to the Learning Together Program (LTP) to receive shares of Boeing stock – this is a benefit unique to our contract that no other payrolls at Boeing currently have.

“Only by having union representation can workers have rights on the job and a voice in their wages, hours and working conditions,” said District 751 President Jon Holden. “This is a good example of why having rights on the job is important and just how valuable those rights are. Without a union, a worker is simply at their employer’s will and can be disciplined or fired for any or no reason. It truly pays to be union.”

“I want to thank the entire team at District Lodge 751 for their tireless dedication in obtaining justice on the job,” said Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “I am heartened to hear Brother Musgrove’s testimony of regaining faith in his Union and the ripple effect of this victory. This victory is a testament to the power of solidarity; when we stand together, we win regardless of the size of the employer.”

“I hope all of my Union brothers and sisters have the freedom to work hard to realize their dreams,” Musgrove said. “I hope that they have the strength to stand their ground when anybody challenges their beliefs. If any of my peers become involved in an unjust scenario like I did, I urge them to remain calm, ask for union representation, and trust in the process. The state of our union is strong.”

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