IAM 751 head faces critics, appears to tamp down some dissent

The head of the IAM 751 union, Tom Wroblewski, faced tough questioning at the District’s regularly scheduled meeting last night and appears to have calmed at least some dissenters who were sharply critical of his actions in connection with the controversial Boeing contract offer earlier this month that was voted down by a 2-1 margin in a hasty balloting.

Members of the 751 District provide the touch labor for all 7-Series Boeing Commercial aircraft except those 787s built in Boeing South Carolina. Boeing offered a contract to 751 that provided for steep concessions in exchange for locating the 777X assembly in Everett (WA) without a competition for the work. After the contract was rejected, Boeing immediately began talking with other states and has since issued Requests for Proposals to 15 parties. The deadline for response is mid-December, followed by a decision early next year.

The turmoil within IAM 751 and between 751 HQ and IAM International, which led the negotiations that crafted the controversial contract proposal, has raised questions about who is in charge at the IAM: International or 751. Boeing said it has “no plans to re-engage” 751 before the current contract expires in 2016, but observers of Boeing note that the company is very careful about parsing its word. “No plans” isn’t definitive, like “it will not.” “Plans” can change, observers note.

Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was quoted from the Dubai Air Show that “the ball is in IAM’s court.”

Observers believe the “no plans” and Conner’s “court” statements leave plenty of opportunity to new negotiations. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is urging both sides to resume negotiations.

The scenario that is viewed as most likely is Boeing won’t talk with the IAM until after the RFPs are submitted–assuming there isn’t some blow-out deal offered by some state that tops Washington’s $8.7bn deal.

22 Comments on “IAM 751 head faces critics, appears to tamp down some dissent

  1. If one Ass-umes that nada will happen re negotiations or discussions or ? re contract extensions until 2016, what escapes me is just what does BA think will happen? By that time, IAM ( and SPEEA ) folks will have been working while somewhat peeved by the recent fiasco. And the 737 will be in full plus production of 40 plus/month- 777 line will be humming, ‘ groundwork ‘ for 777x will be in progress , P-8 production and 767 tanker will also be running. IOW sort of busy. The ‘leverage’ will be on the side of those same grunts you tried to intimidate etc. And things like the ACA (ObUmacare) will be partially shaken out, political landscape a mess, etc.

    McMerney will be nearere to retirement, musical chairs as to who will be annointed, and for better or worse- a decision will have been made as to where 777X will be assembled, suppliers lined up, etc.

    Stonewalling and secret meetings will probably NOT be in fashion. So will BA again make the same offer with skewed numbers and arm twisting ? I dont think so !!

  2. Well, does “What is good for ME” trump “What is good for my neighbors-and Puget Sound area”….?
    Apparently that is a RESOUNDING “YES!!
    Assuming the local union leadership can retire before long, and therefor rules are NOT change on THEM.

    • C. Morgan – re union leadership ( national and local ) but mostly local **may** be affected by the proposal by boeing re 2016 freezing. A little known item in the legal plan documents available only by written request allows any employee who goes to work for a union to continue to get credited service ( up to 10 years worth ) on the Boeing Pension plan which is of course vested. So a freezing of the plan in 2016 could affect several of the union leaders.

      (c) Exceptions. Credited Service does not include:
      (1) any service performed while an individual is not an Eligible Employee;
      (2) any service for which an Employee receives credit under any other defined
      benefit plan or money purchase pension plan maintained by a member of
      the Controlled Group, including any Credited Service earned under this
      Plan for which the Employee receives credit under the Pension Value

      (3) Service earned during a period for which Years of Service are disregarded
      under Section 1.50;
      (4) any time during which the Employee’s name was off the Active Payroll by
      reason of leave of absence or layoff, *** subject to the following exceptions: ****
      (A) the first 30 days of the leave of absence will be treated as Credited
      Service (or longer, to the extent provided by collective bargaining
      agreements or under a pilot early leave program); and
      (B) the aggregate of any leaves of absence on or after January 1,1971
      for service performed for a collective bargaining representative
      certified under the Labor Management Relations Act whose
      members are Eligible Employees will be treated as Credited
      Service in computing Basic Benefits under Section 4.1(a) and for
      determining vesting. Under no circumstances, however, will an
      Employee receive more than ten years of Credited Service for
      service with a collective bargaining representative; or . . .

      January 1,2008


      Just part of the conundrum perhaps as to why many LOCAL union leaders ( stewards, president, etc ) may not have been happy with the deal

  3. Altruism only applies to wartime enlistment and charity work. This is a business deal.

    Everybody seems to feel that the Aero Mechanics must make a decision based on everything but what they feel is good for themselves. In 2011 such a deal was struck, though the motivations for accepting it may have varied from person to person. Nonetheless, two years later, Boeing returned with an ultimatum that essentially canceled that deal.

    Learning then took place.

    The rank and file know if they voted in favor, the thanks would be somewhere between brief and non-existent, just like the public consolation they receive when their is a mass layoff. They get cut down either way. So why not just close ranks and vote with nothing but self interest? You, me and everybody does the same thing. Those morally obtuse folks who believe they can judge the IAM on the basis of altruism need to look in the mirror.

  4. Those bastards at Boeing offered a new deal only two years later! How dare they? We aren’t even allowed to walk out on strike yet!

  5. From the Boeing side, they want and will get pension surety and health and benefits at the level or slightly above industry averages. This is because some states have set their laws to decrease union influence. Is it ideal? No, because they have a reasonably good thing going in Seattle. But they have to get to the point where damaging strikes can’t crush the ability to deliver aircraft to customers. That is a huge part of the issue…certainty. The competition with AIrbus is not just on price, it is on dependability. The 787 hurt, but any strike interrupts plane deliveries and damages the ability to negotiate.

    The unions have a reasonably good thing, but there has to be some recognition that striking should be the last resort and that the reality of the environment is that Boeing can leave for right to work states. It’s not a matter of honor, it is economic reality. If they want to block Boeing, then win elections in states where unions are weak and change the laws. That isn’t going to happen any time soon given the political realities of the world.
    So, negotiate and reach a deal that each side gets something. Lines in the sand are not going to do it for either side. Maybe a profit sharing deal or something where if times are good then employees get bonuses spelled out contractually.

    • well contrary to popular belief- most union members would prefer not to strike- but at the same time when Boeing issues an ultimatum andf a rush to judgement- the smell of fish rotting from the top was pervasive.

      as a guess- the next move will go as follows

      Late jan – BA will announce the field has been narrowed to TWO sites, site X and wash state. Shortly after – ‘ new’ talks will begin with IAM and trailing perhaps SPEEA re contract extensions. The SPEEA agreement will be used as a model. In short , the SPEEA contract maintains the BCERP plan for existing but all new hires after (march 2012 for SPEEA ) and after xx 2014 for IAM will get the 401k bit.

      And of course a new look at effects of ACA (Obamacare ), etc will be on the table.

      Maybe Scott will start a poll – winner gets a free tour of Everett plus a two sandwich lunch at the Tour site ??

  6. oh please this guy has shown his hand,look what he did to speea after they caved in, sent their work out over the place!!!!!!!!!!. the IAM would have imploded if they signed that pig of a contract then the news of a 100 billion order came out.like one poster said they just signed a extension dec 2011 and he comes back 2 years later during a times of record profits with a contract full of concessions talking about the chinese in 20 yrs.you will see folks starting to bail, the chinese are recruiting now.if i got 25 yrs i would think about going to china

  7. Anyone who recently hasn’t fallen off the turnip truck understands that no major corporation is going to put out RFP’s and make a critical, major site selection in 90 days.

    That decision is already in the can. The rest is just brinksmanship.

    • amen amen amen amen !!!!

      Now how to save face- chapter two coming soon at a theater near you.

  8. What surprises me, in a Country where your moto is “In God we trust”, there is so little solidarity/charity.
    I live in Toulouse, but all my life I worked, and still work for a US company in the oil business. Though I had to pay 23% of my salary for social and retirement costs, without being ill, I did it with no bad feelings so everybody could be treated. I believe that either rich or poor, you should get treated the same way, as far as health and retirement are concerned, so I pay for it for 40 years.
    I can understand the IAM 751 people. They want to fight for their families and kids future.
    Some people will say that we, in Europe, are living on subsidies. If it was the case we would have been bankruped for ages.
    I have a lot of US friends who would like to pay the same fees and get the same benefits.
    By the way, my boy went to the doctor today and paid 23 euros (31$ approx), 75% refunded by Social Security, 25% by my own mutual fund. Cost 0, paid by ma taxes.

    I realy believe that Boeing will build the 777X in Seattle. Of course it will be a good plane. But you cannot build a plane from scratch, otherwise they will be built in China, Vietnam or Bangladesh, where manpower is cheaper. By the way, FLA is just peanuts comparec to other costs. I think that itis just ideology

    • re ..What surprises me, in a Country where your moto is “In God we trust”, there is so little solidarity/charity…
      Nope no surprise the unspoken part of In God we trust is ‘ all others CASH “

  9. The wages plus benefits are mighty good at Boeing, and this deal would help their employer face the competition on a bit fairer footing-and what does Boeing get in return? A 747 load of anger and vitriol. If these union folks were being paid poorly, I would certainly side up with them.
    Ok, maybe the angry 2/3 won, but how about all the other PS people that will not get solid jobs in the future? Don’t the union members have kids that need good solid paying job?
    It seem to me these no voters are so angry about the trees and limbs that they can’t appreciate the forest.

  10. No one understand that the middle class family is not responsible for the global mess we find ourselves in today. Last time i checked IAM members were not being paid $250,000 a month when they retire. I wonder who makes that?

    It is the world corporations (CEOs), politicians, bankers, wall street types that are driving the middle classes into the ground. Those that voted NO are just trying to fend off the Bast–ds at the top. Most CEOs today should probably be locked up and the key thrown away. i believe I can probably count the honest ones on one hand.

    It’s ashame that the rest of the middle class does not stand behind these IAM members and no i am not a union member, but I tip my hat to them for standing up and saying hell NO! At least they are taking responsibility for their own destiny.
    If the middle class continues to be obedient to these highly overpaid individuals you can soon kiss your working rights goodbye.

    Sure hope we can stick together and fend them off !

  11. I will certainly agree a portion of this impasse is Boeings fault for not knowing the temperature nor depth of the water they were plunging into (unless they wanted a no vote).
    I recognize there was a tremendous amount of emotion on the union’s choice.
    Nothing else would explain the firm short term decision on such a long term reward for the follow on generations of Puget Sound……

  12. Aristotle: I’m really glad you are not a greedy bastard like those you mentioned who are willing to take advantage of their station in life.
    (Anybody have a mirror handy?)

  13. Although it has been touched on by a couple, I wonder how much it bothers the rank and file of IAM 751 to be negotiating a new contract 2 years after having concluded the last “long term” contract. It does seem that Boeing is indeed not bothered by the uncertainty of that comes around every 2 years like they used to claim. Now they themselves are the source of that uncertainty.

    Irrespective of if one agrees with IAM 751 and their actions, one cannot ignore the fact that Boeing is stirring up the pot after only 2 years into this “long term” contract.

  14. Aero Ninja’s point is well made. Boeing perhaps thought it had found a way to avoid negotiations and impose ultimatums with the 2011 extension, and sought to impose it’s views by once again, avoiding the expiration of their labor agreement, and the attendant strike authorization. It came back to the kill to feed one more time, and found Lions instead of the expected Jackals.

    The Aero mechanics seem to have the ability to respect a contract for it’s duration, Boeing? Not so much.

  15. I’m with steve re turnip truck or sled( before the invention of the wheel )

    The decision has already been made- Tim clarke made it clear where and by who

    BA move is to extract the best deal from WA state, and Split up the union at the same time as a McNerney bonus. But now that that failed, does anyone believe that the next contract ” negotiations ” instead of the intimidation process will be all sweetness and light? BA will be in the middle of major production on various models and strike would be much more significant…

    • With it’s overreach, BA has forfeited a potent weapon that it has used several times:

      A weaponized Christmas holiday season.

      After the Gregorian new year, things become more problematic When BA can no longer play father Christmas, and faces 31,000 some kind of annoyed Aero Mechanics, annoyed for no other reason than the anxiety. The anxiety imposed by their employer, the politicians, the media who have managed somehow to keep this story in the news every single day, the general public many of who seem to feel like they can dictate someone else’s relationship with their employer, and last but not least, their own union hierarchy, who handled the situation with the competence of Lucille Ball at the end of the pie conveyor.

      Many might say BA has the upper hand, some the Union. The answer is neither. While it’s true those who stand to lose a job might suffer more personally, both sides can really do some damage.

      BA, for it’s part, can go ahead and do what is considered by most as foolish from a pure business and finance standpoint, which is to say, risk the farm on a senseless move.

      the IAM, for it’s part, can retaliate is spades in 2016, shutting down Boeing Commercial operating at historically high -production rates. It can well stymie 777X unless not a single part is made in the Puget Sound by the IAM, and interrupting the cash flow into the program. Of course, bond sales could take place and we all know shareholders love being put second in line right? Those standing to lose a job over a 777x move will have nothing to lose and every incentive to try to gain what would equate to a nice severance package. The old hardline will still be around because no deal including an early departure was offered. Those newer employees will have nearly three more years under their belts and be wiser to the ways of BA.

      It’s a very cold war, indeed, both side bristling with weapons. There is only one difference I can detect. All the posturing belongs to Boeing, The Union Grand poohbahs are largely silent, and nobody seems to care one whit what the IAM rank and file think. And like most ground troops, they are the first casualties.

      Potential go-betweens, diplomats of a sort, do exist. But their abilities and biases are certainly in question. Most are politicians. Think that one over.

      In the end, it will be BA who will have to extricate itself from from it’s failed offensive. It was halted at Moscow, and now sits in the cold. But it still has the initiative, and all the choices belong to BA. Those choices are largely already made, and yet to be revealed. There is contingency planning, I can guarantee. There is no urgency. There never ways. And perception of urgency is an artificial creation of Boeing. Boeing knows that if it can force urgency, decisions that are beneficial to it, and detrimental to the other parties are usually made. It’s a sales pressure tactic, and nothing more. The bidding war underway is an utter sham. The winner has been selected, but will be forced to pay up a little more before they get the trophy.

      • GOSH Steve sounds like he might be a bored of directionless member who was stifled. And the bit re Moscow – Both Napoleon blown-apart and Hitler were turned back, largely by the cold winter.. Perhaps a better similie would be the siege of Leningrad ( Now St Petersburg for the whipper -snappers ) even more fitting when one realizes a suburb of Seattle known as Fremont has the ONLY gen-u- wine real statue of Lenin in the U.S . Soon to be moved to the Seattle Council chambers. Of course Fremont also has a ballistic missile . . .

  16. It seems to me that 200 non-firm orders from Clark and U-turn represents 50B green votes for IAM 751.

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