Here we go again. Once more, Boeing's
We all remember the Great Boeing Machinists Strike of 2008, when Boeing's intransigence over workers' desire for job security sent 27,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) marching to the picket lines in Seattle. Refusing to budge on the question of outsourcing, Boeing saw its assembly lines idled for three months, first endangering, then torpedoing the businesses of Boeing parts suppliers like General Electric
In the event of decompression, first put on your face mask, then ...
Investors breathed a sigh of relief when Boeing ultimately pulled out of its death dive, conceded to the union on some points, but held the line on others, and got back to the business of building planes. But they might want to take a preemptive deep breath now. Because at the very moment that Boeing vies with Airbus for the right to build the nation's next airborne tanker, IAM workers at the company's Hazelwood, Mo., defense plant have authorized a strike if their demands are not met.
Once again, job security is at issue, as Boeing proposes to limit the rights of senior employees in the event of a layoff. But while this right seems to benefit only a few, the vast majority -- 99% -- of the 2,600 IAM members in Missouri are backing the union's play. As with the previous strike, health-care benefits are once again a point of contention.
Hope springs eternal
For its part, Boeing is so far avoiding the kind of "best and final" type of language that sparked a democratic riot two years ago, instead promising "honest and open discussions" and predicting that "a successful new contract" will be inked in June.
Let's just hope Boeing means it. Let's hope, too, that the workers keep their demands reasonable and refrain from the inflammatory rhetoric of yesteryear. It would be a crying shame if another strike shrinks Boeing's rebounding prospects -- transforming "who gets laid off first" into something more than a hypothetical question.