Labor Groups Rally to Support Machinists' Crucial Boeing Vote

Nov 18, 2013

Ever since Boeing machinists voted last week to reject the company’s contract extension offer, people in the Puget Sound region have been trying to imagine a future without the aerospace giant here. But against the backdrop of those fears, labor supporters rallied Monday to show they think the machinists did the right thing.

The steady rain didn’t deter them. A couple hundred protesters turned out in Seattle’s Westlake Park, carrying signs that said solidarity and wearing rain ponchos bearing the words “justice, dignity, respect.”

“Hey, Boeing, you can’t hide! We can see your greedy side!” the crowd chanted.

Boeing’s 31,000 machinists voted last week to turn down the company’s contract extension that would have frozen the pension in 2016 and raised health care costs. Boeing had pledged to build the next 777 jet in the Puget Sound region if the machinists had accepted the deal. Now, Boeing is looking at other sites.

Kristen Beifus, director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, says there are hazards when you try to cut costs.

“You might agree with me that you don’t want to be 10,000 feet in the air, worried that your plane was cheaply made by less skilled workers because of outsourcing,” Beifus said.

But not everyone is so supportive. John McDonald, who was walking a few blocks away, said he thinks the workers want too much.

“I think the machinists, even though my dad was a big union guy, I think they’re way out of line,” he said.

Boeing, for its part, has said its offer was market-leading. But at the same time, the company said it needs to keep costs in check as it faces intense competition from Airbus.