The CEO, the Governor, and the Machinists
By Robby Stern
This month we witnessed a corporate crime. James McNerney, CEO and Board President of the Boeing Corporation, engaged in what can only be called extortion of the workers who created the more than $3.9 billion in company profits in 2012. McNerney received a 34% compensation increase in 2012 to the tune of $21.1 million. According to disclosures cited by Danny Westneat in the Seattle Times, if he were to retire today, McNerney would earn a pension of $265,575 per month. This same James McNerney is the chair of the national Business Round Table that is calling for cuts to the earned benefits of our Social Security social insurance system. This guy fiddles while workers, seniors, veterans, and the disabled get burned.
Okay, McNerney is less than an admirable human being. I am sure most of us knew that from the get go. What is much more difficult to swallow is the role of our Governor and some of our other elected officials in this sordid scam. Governor Inslee made the following statement after the vote of the embattled Machinists was announced. “This is a tough night for the state of Washington. We could have had a big win tonight. We could have grabbed the brass ring for this airplane.”
Exactly whose “big win” is Inslee talking about? He and other government officials have excellent defined benefit pensions. Evidently, Inslee wanted the Machinists to take one for the Gipper. Instead of coming to the defense of the workers who put him in office and using this opportunity to talk about the necessity of this generation and future generations to live their senior years with dignity and respect, Inslee and other elected officials on both sides of the aisle literally betrayed these workers, first by putting all the pressure on them to fold, and then by criticizing them for standing up for themselves, their families and future generations of workers.
I, for one, want to thank the Machinists for standing up for the vast majority of us who want to resist the arrogant assertion of corporate power reflected in the take it or leave it proposal from the Boeing corporation. If Boeing management wants to commit corporate suicide by making the same kind of stupid decisions they made with the 787 when they outsourced all over the world including the inexperienced work force in Charleston, so be it. It will be hard for the Washington economy but ultimately corporate management will be shown to be incompetent.
Unfortunately, the individuals in the corporate hierarchy will walk away with millions of dollars.
We can only hope that perhaps, despite the venomous attitude that exists in Boeing’s top management toward unions, better thinking will prevail. Boeing should negotiate a genuine collective bargaining agreement with the workers that made them profitable and successful.
Meanwhile, the politicians who are kissing the ring of the Boeing corporation need to be reminded whom it is they are supposed to represent. Encouraging further income inequality by undermining the wages and pensions of Boeing workers is contrary to the interests of the vast majority of Washington residents. There is no question that conceding to the blackmail of the Boeing corporation will have a domino effect. On the other hand, the “no” by the Boeing Machinists might have a different, and more productive, domino effect!
“Just Scrap the Cap” Goes Viral
If you have not yet viewed the You Tube video, “Just Scrap the Cap”, take a look! Produced by Social Security Works WA and the Economic Opportunity Institute, the video has gone “viral”! The video, was a collaborative effort including a number of PSARA members and brilliant creative work from younger staff at the Economic Opportunity Institute. My daughter, Rivka, after viewing the video, suggested that we post it on a website called Upworthy. Alex Stone, director of the video, a younger PSARA member and a former employee with the Economic Opportunity Institute (he left to attend grad school at the UW) was successful in getting Upworthy to post “Just Scrap the Cap” and within the first 8 hours, it was viewed by 46,000 people. The number has grown to over 152,000.
Some more good news
We are in the process of creating and producing a second Social Security video with a working theme of “Work Til I Die”. It will have a country and western motif and will appeal especially to people who think Social Security won’t be there for them. Our goal is that after watching the video, viewers will become strong advocates for protecting and enhancing Social Security benefits.
Work on the video has begun. We have selected an experienced video production team and our creative team is at work developing the story board for the production. With a big assist from Ron McGaha (one of the “co-stars of “Just Scrap the Cap”), we are in the process of raising the $15,000 we need to fund the production. We hope to have it ready by early spring.
PSARA’s Board, under the excellent leadership of PSARA member, Alice Ito, is in the process of developing a long term strategic plan. Our goal is to become more effective, to grow and to be an even stronger voice throughout the region. We hope to present the plan to our membership the summer of 2014 and if we cannot meet that deadline, by December 2014.
In the meanwhile, I want to thank all of you for your support for PSARA and wish you a healthy and productive 2014.