Would delayed IAM vote had made a difference? We don’t think so

We really hoped we were done with this story, but the saga of the IAM 751 Boeing 777X contract vote lives on.

  • Several complaints about the timing of the January 3 vote have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board.The NLRB says it will take three months to investigate the matter.
  • More than 1,000 members of 751 local units have called for a recount or a new election; the International rejected these demands. (Note: in government elections, recounts are generally not undertaken unless the margin is less than 100 or the percentage difference is less than 0.5%.) The margin in the January 3 vote was 51%-49% and some 600 votes.
  • A local 751 member declared his candidacy for general vice president of the International IAM, in an election to be rerun from a year ago because of procedural irregularities. This is, of course, part of the irony of the entire matter: the International hijacked the election process from 751, which has never been accused of voting irregularities (that we know of). We’ve observed a couple of vote counts by 751 and found them to be scrupulous.

The critics of the election’s timing note that several thousand members of 751 were on vacation on January 3. Absentee voting was allowed for the first time in IAM history, but according to media reports, about 2,700 members did not vote in this election who voted in the November 13 election. The 777X contract was rejected then by a 67%-33% margin.

If these 2,700 members voted in the January 3 election, about 72% of these would have had to vote “Reject” to overcome the 51% “Accept” result. This is 5 percentage points greater than the November 13 Reject vote. We’re not persuaded this would have occurred.

We were involved in local suburban and state legislative elections from 1998 through 2011. In the suburb where we live, voter turnout in presidential years routinely was 85%. We analyzed voting results and voting trends in all but the 2011 election. In no case did absentee votes alter the initial reported outcome by more than 1%. Those on the losing end hoped that absentee ballots would make up the difference. We always calculated what percentage of votes would be required to overcome a deficit. Super-majority percentages were beyond reach.

It is based on this experience, and the percentages achieved in the November 13 and January 3 votes, that leads us to conclude that even if the “missing” 2,700 members had cast votes, the required percentage to win–72%–was impossible to achieve.

We believe the contract still would have been accepted.

25 Comments on “Would delayed IAM vote had made a difference? We don’t think so

  1. re 751 voting irregularites – yep about12 to 15 years ago, 751 had ( possibly by accident ) a numbered ballot system similar to our state absentee ballot. This was for local officer elections. DOL-OLMS made them re run. BTW- In union officer elections, ballots must be kept for 3 to 5 years. But NLRB supposedly has some sort of responsibilityn for Contract votes. NLRB is a different federal org than DOL.

    So what happened to the contract ballots- do they still exist? is there a requriement to keep?.

    Also in the 80’s ( My memory ) a strike vote count was somehow delayed and more wheeling and dealing somehow took place. As I recall- the president ( Baker ) was suspected of some unusual activites- and a bit later ( 3 to 4 ? ) years got tagged for a bit of financial oddities and spent a while in club fed.

    As to whether or not results would have changed … IMO – probably. This due to the misc fubars on absentee, the most likely people out of town and not having email and photo shoot and send capabilites,etc were the old fogies who were more likely to vote no.

  2. Scott, what criteria did you use to get your 72%? I figure they need 600 votes to get even, another 100 votes to get a “clear” majority and then you split the rest. Hence they would need 1700 out of the 2700 to reject, which comes out to about 63%.

    Not that I believe they will get a new election and even if they did, one cannot assume all will vote the same way again. It would be a “whole new ballgame”.

    • 2,700 votes divided by two to get to 50% of these “new” votes, plus 601 votes to overcome the 600 vote deficit equals 1,951, which is 72% of 2,700 votes.

      • might want to check math … to get a 600 vote change, need only 300 301 votes to change from yes to no out of a given total count of votes

        And one report had about 8000 not voting or about 25 percent of total.

        300 out of 24000 is about 1.2 percent…

        • You miss the point, Don. The charges by members is that 2,700 people were essentially disenfranchised on Jan. 3 and they should have been allowed to vote that day. If they had, to overcome the result of 51%-49%, those 2,700 would have had to vote in a 72% proportion to change the result.

          I agree that in a re-run election, you start from scratch and 301 votes theoretically are all that are needed change the result. But I was, and am, talking about January 3, not a re-do.

          • Hmmm- I had not heard of the 2700 members disenfranchised- the last figures I heard was that about 25 percent – 8000 members did not vote. True some may have not wanted to vote ??

            Where did the 2700 figure come from ??

          • It was reported in the press that 2,700 fewer voted Jan. 3 than Nov. 13. Add the 5,000 who didn’t vote Nov. 13 and there you are.

      • Sure- 2700 fewer – but that does not mean disenfranchised ? Anyhow, it wil be up to the NLRB to determine if the whole mess met bargaining rules for fairness, etc

        And the IAM members to argue with DOL_OLMS or courts to find out IF Governing Documents were violated re voting on contract

        And note even our governator Inslee is in CYA mode re state to state compeittion versus WTO subsidies as reported in Seattle Times today


        Inslee bemoans corporate incentive competitions
        Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wishes states weren’t in constant competition to provide financial incentives in order secure jobs from big companies.

        …Inslee said Thursday he would like to see a national agreement among states to make that sort of subsidy escalation illegal. That comes after Washington approved perhaps the largest corporate tax break in U.S. history — valued at nearly $9 billion — in order to convince Boeing Co. to build a new airplane in the state.

        Is that ‘ buyers” or ‘ sellers” remorse ???

      • Don’s math is right. The nay’s would need a 600 vote margin in new votes cast to change the result. Just put some real numbers in. Approximately 23,900 votes cast with a 600 vote margin means the nay’s were at roughly 11,650 and the yea’s were at roughly 12,250 votes. The nay’s would need a 601 vote margin out of the 2700 votes that weren’t cast. That implies 1049 yea votes and 1651 nay votes. Add those to the original totals gets you 12,699 yea votes and 12,701 nay votes, a two vote margin of victory for the nay’s. The nay’s would have needed to win 61% of the theoretical 2700 vote pool that was on vacation (1651/2700).

        61% is still a whopping 12% better than the actual nay showing in the votes cast, but it’s not nearly as outlandish as 72%.

      • No, you have to subtract 601 from 2,700 before you divide it by 2, otherwise you end up with 3,301 votes added to the total, not 2,700. So the numbers should be 1,651 and 1,049, making it 61% necessary.

        • In any event, given the trend on Jan. 3, and the highly unlikely prospect the 2,700 would have vote contrary to this trend, the contract still would have been accepted.

      • As I noted earlier, the real percentage necessary of 2700 additional votes would be 1651 “no” votes, or 61%, about 10% less than the “no” vote percentage in the first vote. If the majority of those 2700 voters were older workers, who by all accounts opposed the offer(s) in greater numbers, I believe it is possible there may have been a different outcome in the second vote.

      • The beauty of this is, it is all speculation after the fact and will have no effect on the contract or Boeing’s operations. What I know of the voting, the local IAM group did all they could to make sure that their members were able to vote and seemed to have done a good job under difficult circumstances. It is not my place to comment on the national IAM group, but it appears they were less concerned about the process than the outcome.
        The bottom line is that Boeing didn’t really need to alienate their workforce and community. They should have sat down with the local IAM and negotiated in good faith. The Puget Sound workforce has done a great job for Boeing for many years. Yes, there have been strikes, but the current contract was extended previously and a NLRB charge was dropped by the IAM that could have been a real bother for Boeing. It appears that Boeing’s management had to make an ideological point and this was not about the money, but rather a reminder of who’s the boss.

        First the 2700 votes has been wrongly cast as a special number- it isnt- it is merely the TOTAL difference between the first vote and the second vote.

        No indication that that number were in any way disenfranchised !!

        So for the votes cast, with an announced supposed diffference of 600 votes in favor (yes) to the NO votes, So for the SAME total -IF 301 votes were subtracted from the 600 votes, then the NO would have won. math is simple 600-301 = 299 yes
        and plus 301 = NO. total delta is 600 votes.

        Works for any total. But if one assumes that the older ones were more likely to be at granmas and out of touch AND to vote no , then the vote may well have changed.

        This focus on some magic number of 2700 is bizzare.

        The question is really why did about 25% of eligible voters NOT vote ?

        Possilbly a good part of that 8000 NON votes were out of town-out of touch- did not get mail – had no access, etc. This vote game was NOT national news with details available mainly thru local news and radio and TV

        How many in east nowhere or were unable to change plans, etc

        And lets not forget- this was the first time in IAM history AFIK that an absentee vote was allowed – and not in the governing documents.

        IMO Boss tweed, Huey Long, and Vito corleone would be proud.

    • About 2 weeks, it seems. See: http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2022503048_boeingmachinistsvotexml.html (Published Saturday, December 21st). It does not make it 100% clear when the Local members were notified but seeing as Mr. Gates is pretty well informed, I would assume it was no earlier than Friday the 20th. Considering the time of year, I can understand why many are up in arms about the timing.

      Scott, how could they set up and implement absentee balloting in such a short time?

      • It was done by email absentee balloting. The procedure was outlined on the 751 website and members were notified by email. It remains unclear how many of those on vacation had access to email, either for the notification or the voting.

        Also due to a lack of volunteers at the Everett polling station, lines were three hours long. It was in the 30s that day and some people gave up and went home without voting.

    • AFIK it was late on the 20th. Since many- most of the older types had made plans to take a few days off Monday and the jan 2nd and 3rd and may have been on their way to granny, on a plane to hawaii, etc, and it was NOT published till Sat AM or late friday night, there is NO doubt it was a last minute change. The letter from BA WAS on the IAM 751 site http://www.iam751.org/ until a few days ago.

      But here it is http://www.iam751.org/pages/t2013/Dec_12proposalwithoptionb.pdf

      and first surfaced on the IAM Oregon site. Note that the creastion dagte BY BOEIG was Dec 21, 8:55AM per properties. ( but top date on page visible was DEC 20th.

      Am IAM letter was dated 23rd DEC http://www.iam751.org/pages/t2013/Letter_Dec23.pdf

      “…NOTE: Recognizing that many of our members are on approved vacation and out of the area on the voting
      day of January 3rd, District 751 got the International President to grant authority a one-time absentee
      ballot process on a contract vote. We are currently developing an absentee ballot process and refining
      the details. Check the website http://www.iam751.org for instructions on how to obtain an absentee ballot.
      These are extraordinary times and our goal is to ensure that every member gets an opportunity to vote.”

      Normally absentee ballots are NOT used or allowed for contract votes..

      There was a convoluted process to vote via internet- needed photo ID to be sent via email, etc.

      Now add to the mess a quote from one of the volunteers to check in the locals who were supposedly mailed a blue card to their home address ( but many never received them )
      A Neal Jacobson yesterday posted on everett herald ( may not work ) and I’ll extract

      …I was a volunteer at the Everett IAM751 union hall Friday the 3rd. I spent most of the day working the end of the line of members that did not have the Blue eligibility card .At noon the line was taking 3 hours to get through. I asked most everyone if they had received a card. It looked to me like, of those without a card 95% did not get one at all. I would estimate that line had some 5000 members in it over the course of the day. ”

      So no wonder people are suspicious !!!!!

      And what happened to ballots_ IF n Officer election – DOL_OLMS requires saving ballots for 3 years- What does NLRB require re contract voting ?? Who knows?

      Did Mickey moue and the the 7 dwarfs vote ? probably not. How about Boss Tweed, and a few cadavers, probalby not. But why the delay between ” everett finished counting- and about 30 to 45 minutes ( Scott? ) before the grand announcement. And why not an official release of exact count?

      Was it the ‘ will not pay for a landsilde ” cliche ascribed to old Joe kennedy ?

      And lastly- would YOU sign an 8 to 10 year contract so poorly designed by a person( company ) who says ” trust me! ” ..

  3. Regardless of the outcome the important point to see here is that Boeing is doing what Boeing does best, muscle people around either with their political clout in Washington or create fear in their loyal and hard working employees with the prospect of losing their jobs. What Boeing has done is just destroy the most important quality of a successful company and that is deflate the morale of the work force.

  4. One think (spelling intended) is that the NLRB will be or soon will be fully staffed by current administration appointments (as it should be)

    There is a lot of labor law no one understands how it can be until ruled on and unlike the Supreme court, the current board can upset all the previous interpretations from previous boards.

    By the time any rulings are done Boeing Chicago is stuck with Everett (much to their relief regardless as it would have been a hose up of Biblical proportions). Note how long and how many managers they went through to fix their screw up on the 787 program!

    So, it could be overturned on any number of grounds and the ramifications of forcing something down people throats will ripple forever. My company gets minimal efforts as well. They don’t care and its just a pay check. I do what I need to (including pretend to care when needed) . I have learned to watch things go South rather than stepping in. Sad commentary but you do what you need to protect your emotional health.

    What no one has addressed in this is the artificial reason construct that Boeing Chicago pulled.

    Using the auto industry as the prime example, low cost imports were what doomed it (free trade anyone?).

    Where are the low cost imports in Commercial Aviation?

    China? They can’t even certify a MD80 look alike, let alone an A320 knock off (both are effectively dead).

    Russia? They can’t even make a reliable short range regional jet let alone support it.

    Aircraft are not like autos or computers or cheap shoes. The design cycle is incredibly long and program length is 20 years or more (please don’t tell me the 737 is still being made!) You have to be at state of the art at the right time in a new program cycle to compete. Airbus has learned their lesson and will keep Boeing honest (who has forgotten the lesson and is re-trenching with just barley good enough to get by efforts as evidence by the 777X).

    So, the argument that it’s a competitive industry does not apply to Commercial Aircraft (nor most of the parts). Pure Bogus.

    It has been noted that Boeing has given the Crown Jewels away as has Bombardier (Airbus on the other hand has not as the A320 is 70s technology that the Chinese have already which is interesing .

  5. I think we learned on January 7th why Boeing and Buffenbarger insisted that the vote be held on January 3rd. Boeing released its 2013 results on January 7th. Dominic Gates put it this way in the Seattle Times:

    “The forthcoming 777X jet, which Boeing said will be built in Washington state because of the Machinists vote last week, featured in the sales tally, but not as prominently as expected.

    Boeing launched the 777X with great fanfare at the Dubai Air Show in November touting commitments for 259 of the massive jets.

    However, only 66 firm orders had been booked by the end of the year.

    Some airline customers may have been reluctant to sign on the dotted line before they were sure the jet would be built in Everett — which is much less risky for Boeing than building it elsewhere.”

    That is a point made frequently by the union members urging rejection of the contract, and was our greatest leverage against Boeing’s “take it or we leave” campaign. Public knowledge of the real total of firm orders for the 777X would have strengthened the Union’s hand, and enabled something more closely resembling negotiations rather than extortion.

    Boeing wanted the takeaway contract signed before the Dubai Air Show. That didn’t happen. Next best thing was to ram the contract through before the sales figures became public. Buffenbarger and Michalski had to know what was going on. There was never any valid reason for holding the vote before everyone was back to work. I wonder how long we’ll have to wait before we find out why they went along with Boeing management. The aroma of dead fish hangs in the air.

    • In the past five years the 747-8 passenger model has outsold the freighter two to one. I’m guessing Emirates has finally come to their senses and has switched the 777x order to 150 747-8.

  6. Leeham,
    A rewrite of your analysis is required as your maths are flawed. Correcting the maths may make you think of changing your conclusions btw.

    This is unfortunate and too often the case in these days of quick but uncorrct analysis (although very rare on this blog).

  7. Boeing and Buffenbarger have bigger problems than merely the vote. And that is going to be the complaints that seek to attack the contract and the ways in which it came about directly. What actually happened is going to come to light. And it might be possible that this contract was never legally valid in the first instance. All this will take time, months or years, but there are some very patient Machinist’s out there. Buffy has best be oh-so-careful.

    The vote, or a re-vote, and their outcomes are merely sideshows to a potential boiling cauldron of lies, deceit, and misconduct.

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