Issues: Outsourcing and a Contract Offer For Kansas
Employees from several
states will picket The Boeing Company's headquarters Tuesday,
protesting the aerospace giant's "continued efforts to cut its
United States workforce while expanding overseas employment."
Members and union officials from the Society of Professional
Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001,
AFL-CIO, will set up pickets at 9:00 am, (Tuesday, March 30)
outside Boeing World Headquarters, 100 North Riverside Plaza.
Around noon, the group will march to Chicago City Hall to draw
attention to the $22 million of city-backed incentives used to
Boeing cut more than 35,000 employees from its US workforce in
the past three years. The names of 4,122 of those employees who
were represented by the engineers, technical and professional union
are contained on informational flyers and a 12-foot banner the
picketers are bringing to Chicago.
The union is also drawing attention to Boeing's efforts to
implement a contract offer on 3,400 employees in Wichita, Kansas.
Employees in the Wichita Technical and Professional Unit (WTPU) of
SPEEA rejected Boeing's initial offer last week by a margin of 3 to
1. The offer would have given the employees the lowest wage
increases and the highest health care premiums of any group of
Boeing employees at the 12,000-employee Wichita plant. Negotiations
started last month after union members voted to retain union
Jennifer MacKay, said Boeing cannot be allowed to hide from
employees in its corporate high-rise.
"We have tried to work these issues through regular channels,"
Mackay said. "That has not worked. It's time to start educating
people about the decisions that are coming out of Boeing World
MacKay, a manufacturing engineer from Spokane, Washington, saw
employees get laid-off, benefits cut and wages decreased by 3 to 15
percent when her plant was sold to Triumph Composite Systems, Inc.
Boeing moved some of the work previously performed in Spokane to a
Boeing-backed plant in South Africa. Two weeks before the South
Africa plant opened, the state run South African Airlines decided
to stop buying Boeing airplanes.
Steve Smith, Chairman of the WTPU Negotiation Team, is picketing
Boeing to improve its contract offer in Wichita.
"Boeing is using this contract offer to punish employees for
belonging to a union," Smith said.
Alton Folks, a numerical
control programmer from Auburn (WA) is seeing work from his plant
go to South Africa, Korea and Japan. Dave Bain, who works at the
most sophisticated composite fabrication plant in the United States
in Frederickson, Washington, said some of his co-workers must train
employees from Mitsubishi Industries in Japan to do the work.
Boeing is transferring machinery and knowledge to Mitsubishi and
Kawasaki Industries who will build the wings for the new 7E7.
Steffan Gillyard, an engineer in Seattle, is picketing to draw
attention to the ongoing transfer of work to a Boeing design center
in Moscow, Russia. Gillyard is also working to stop Boeing from
transferring the engineering and writing of the aircraft
maintenance manuals overseas. Boeing recently delayed plans to
transfer the work to a firm in Chile.
Other workers, from Kansas and Washington, are picketing to draw
attention to Boeing's ongoing transfer of work to less experienced
and less costly workers in the People's Republic of China, Italy,
Korea and other locations.
Foreign outsourcing is not the only concern. This week, Boeing
announced plans to cut 135 SPEEA-represented jobs and send the work
to Dell computers.
Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in September,
2001. The citizens of Chicago and Illinois provided $63 million in
tax breaks, grants and other incentives to attract the corporate
headquarters and its 500 employees.