Boeing stock hits all-time high. Legislature approves billions in tax breaks for Boeing. Boeing Lifts 2013 Forecast As Quarterly Profit Soars.
Those were the headlines in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's contract vote by Boeing's aerospace machinists.
Boeing is flying high as one of the most successful corporations in the world, raking in billions of dollars each year. The company's CEO, Jim McNerney, has been rewarded handsomely for these record stock prices. As Danny Westneat pointed out, McNerney will receive $265,575 every month through his pension.
On top of this, just last week Boeing extracted another $9 billion in tax breaks from our legislature. This guarantees them preferential tax rates through 2040.
With their Wall Street records and fresh tax breaks in hand, McNerney and other Boeing executives then demanded historic cuts from their machinist workers. Why? It's simple: because they could. Or at least they thought they could.
Boeing is following the 21st century playbook for greedy corporations around the country. They divide us and force states to compete against neighboring states to offer the biggest tax breaks and the weakest environmental protections. They blackmail workers with threats of moving to another state or country with lower wages and weaker benefits. Then Wall Street bankers reward greedy CEOs with huge paydays and golden parachutes for expertly rigging the system against working families.
We've seen this race to the bottom play out so many times in recent years it's hardly news anymore. That's why it was such a big deal that Boeing's aerospace machinists workers broke the vicious cycle with their resounding "No" vote on Wednesday.
Let's be clear: Boeing machinists are the most skilled and experienced aerospace workers in the world. They build the best and safest airplanes - the airplanes that generated big profits, record stock prices, and fat paydays for the CEOs. When Boeing was struggling after 9/11, workers voted to accept cuts to help the company get by. When Boeing faced problems with the new 787 - which had been outsourced to unskilled, non-union workers in South Carolina - expert machinists from Washington had to clean up the mess.
The machinists worked hard and played by the rules every step of the way, and their work made the company extraordinarily successful. But even this wasn't enough to satisfy the greed of Boeing executives and Wall Street bankers, because it's never enough. Every set of tax breaks and wage cuts simply raises the bar for the next round of tax breaks and wage cuts.
When the machinist workers rejected Boeing's demands on Wednesday, they also rejected Wall Street's efforts to rig the system against working families. Like recent efforts to pass a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and the fight for a living wage for fast-food workers, the machinists stood together for a better future. They stood together for the American ideal that hard work should be valued. The stood together to say hard work should allow us to support a family, invest in our kids' future, and put a little money away in case of hard times.
Boeing paid a very high price the last time it outsourced production of a complicated new airplane. Hopefully the company has learned its lesson that Washington's skilled and experienced aerospace workers can build the best airplanes while also building prosperity for all of us.