Today's Jolt: Labor Leaders Bail on Inslee Christmas Party
THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH A QUOTE FROM GOV. INSLEE'S OFFICE. The day's winners and losers.
Today's Loser is Gov. Jay Inslee
In a show of solidarity with the Boeing machinist union, the International Association of Machinsits 751, more than 10 unions have turned down Gov. Jay Inslee's invitation to attend his first Christmas party at the Governor's mansion tonight.
The reason for the snub? Inslee's statement on Friday urging IAM 751 to allow the rank and file to vote on Boeing's latest offer after the machinist's bargaining team dismissed it. Union leadership, annoyed that Inslee butted in to the process, also interpreted Inslee's statement as a subtle nudge for the rank and file to approve the contract.
The rank and file union voted down Boeing's original offer two-to-one after Boeing proposed changing from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, which workers say puts individual employees in a risky situation. (Basically, it's the difference between relying on your own 401-K and the vagaries of the market as opposed to guaranteed retirement savings based on years of service—and on the collective pot.) Boeing's "last" offer didn't revise the pension proposal, and the bargaining team rejected it.
"I notice the governor did not put it to a vote of the people on the question of the $8.7 billion in [Boeing] subsidies."—Machinist Union Political Director Larry Brown“Union leaders from around the state have turned down the Governor’s invitation to a holiday reception in light of the Governor’s disrespectful interference in the business of the Machinists union by suggesting that they need to vote on a negative contract proposal from the Boeing Company,” Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson says.
And Larry Brown, political director with the machinists themselves, says: "By calling for a vote on the pension stealing offer, the Governor has undercut the bargaining authority of the duly elected officers of the Aerospace Machinists union." And Brown added: "I notice the governor did not put it to a vote of the people on the question of the $8.7 billion in subsidies," a reference to the $8.7 billion in tax breaks the legislature passed in a special session last month (to supposedly guarantee that 777X works stays in Washigton).
However, some anxious rank and file members want a chance to vote on the second offer. The contract is likely to determine whether or not Boeing's 777X continues to built in Everett; last year 777X work generated $20 billion in economic activity, and it supports 56,000 jobs.
Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says: "The governor has been consistent in expressing his strong feelings that the machinists are a big part of Boeing’s success and has said the IAM should be treated as valuable partners. The governor believes machinists should have the opportunity to vote. But to be clear, he has not urged a vote yea or nay. He has consistently said that isn’t his role and fully respects each and every IAM member who will make that decision based on the individual circumstances of their family."
Here's a partial list of some of the unions that turned down Inslee's Christmas invite:
Washington Education Association
Washington State Labor Council
Teamsters 174, 117 & Joint Council
United Food and Commercial Workers 21
Washington Federation of State Employees
the Washington State Building Trades
the Seattle Building Trades
Service Employees International Union 775, 925 & 1199 NW—along with Democratic interest groups such as the Washington Association for Justice (the Trial Lawyers association.)