Over 27,000 Boeing workers are on strike against one of the biggest and most profitable war contractors in the world. Boeing is flush with cash, having made more that $13 billion in profit in recent years. At the same time, union wages dropped an average of $6/hour between 2006 and 2008, thanks to a two-tier wage system agreed to in prior contracts. Union wages will continue to slide as nearly 50% of the highest paid workers become eligible to retire during the life of our next contract.
Boeing wants aerospace workers to suffer the same fate as our brothers and sisters in auto, steel and other industries. They want to cut wages, health care and pensions, and a free hand to send more work to low-wage non-union shops. The bosses, with the help of the auto and steel union leaders, were able to get away with these brutal attacks because they were losing money and markets. But Boeing is one fat cat, with billions in profits, backlogged orders and a steady stream of new Pentagon contracts.
Global capitalist competition (imperialism) is causing the attacks on industrial workers, particularly younger, newer black, Latin and immigrant workers. The rise of Russia and China as industrial and military powers gives new urgency for U.S. bosses to retool and cut costs. The racist super-exploitation of millions of non-union sub-contract workers in low-wage sweatshops from Alabama to southern California is changing the face of the aerospace industry.
As negotiations dragged on this past month, “Rolling Thunder” shook the plants, as workers banged their tools making a deafening sound, every hour on the hour. Boeing workers forced the IAM union leaders to call this strike. Now we must lead it as well.
The battle for the hearts and minds of Boeing workers is as sharp as the sound of Rolling Thunder. The pro-capitalist union leaders have nothing to offer but loyalty to a system bent on war, racism and terror, no matter who lives in the White House.
On the other hand, PLP has helped lead mass rebellions in Boeing plants, organizing mass marches and protest rallies as part of class struggle against the bosses and their imperialist plans for the aerospace industry. We have no illusions that militant activity alone can reverse the sharpening attacks on our class. Only communist revolution will do that. We built this factory with our labor, and the working class should control it!
The road to revolution can be paved in this strike. For this to happen, more Boeing workers, on strike in Seattle or in LA sweatshops, must be guided by revolutionary communist class-consciousness and a mass international PLP. The main measure of victory will be how well we do in moving in that direction.