Contract negotiations between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers broke off last Saturday, sending about 27,000 workers to the picket line. Twelve hundred of them are based in Portland.
The union is asking primarily for improved job security and the ability to compete for jobs that might otherwise be outsourced by Boeing. (Now engineers at Boeing are beginning negotiations with the company about the same thing.) When I spoke with Tim Heeley, Boeing’s labor spokesperson, he said “the only true job security comes from productivity improvements and meeting your commitments to customers.” He went on to point out that they can’t meet their customers’ needs while the strike is going on.
The negotiations also focused around the now-common bones of contention: wages, medical costs and pension benefits. Tomorrow we’ll hear from both sides, but then we’ll expand the conversation to talk about the history and future of unions in the Pacific Northwest.
What’s your experience with unions? How do you think they’ve impacted benefits and working conditions for non-unionized workers? Have you gone on strike, broken up a strike, or crossed a picket line? Or if you haven’t been involved as directly, how do you think unions have impacted your life?