Tag Archives: Boeing

Confront Aerospace Layoffs, Pension Theft with Red-Led Class Struggle

SEATTLE, WA, January 26 — “Don’t you think we ought to do something about that [the scab parts]?” asked a machinist at the last union meeting. Machinist union members had been on strike for the past 17 weeks at the Vought aerospace subcontractor factory in Nashville, Tenn. Within days of walking out, the company brought busloads of scabs into the plant, escorted by armed cops. Tom Wroblewski, IAM District 751 president at Boeing, had just admitted that the struck plant was shipping scab parts to our factories in the Puget Sound. After hemming and hawing, Wroblewski finally offered a pathetic dodge. “We stand ready to help [the strikers],” he declared.

Others demanded the union quit “standing around” and start publicizing the Vought strike in our local union newspaper. “Our members don’t even know about all this,” confided a shop steward and CHALLENGE reader to one of our comrades.

Unfortunately, time ran out for these strikers (and eventually will for us as well if we don’t start organizing class solidarity). Faced with a threat to replace the 1,000 strikers with permanent scabs and the isolation perpetuated by the IAM under the useless slogan “we stand ready to help,” the Vought strikers accepted the company’s final offer soon after our meeting here. Every worker with less than 16 years will no longer accumulate pension benefits, but will have to survive on an increasingly shaky 401(k).

Union ‘Leader’ Hopes For ‘Labor Peace’

Wroblewski began this meeting hoping that the coming year would not be as “eventful” as the last, which saw an eight-week strike. Shop steward after shop steward quickly challenged this notion.

As well as calling for real solidarity with the Nashville strikers, they blasted the union for its silence about rumored layoffs. The company has since officially announced the elimination of 4,500 positions in commercial aerospace.

“We told you,” said one facilities steward, “that the contract language would not protect facilities maintenance jobs. All the company had to do was cite the economy instead of subcontractors and that’s exactly what they did.” Despite the fact that  Boeing has yet to lower production quotas, some facilities maintenance crews have been cut by 50%.

“Didn’t we tell you when we were trying to sell the contract that the new language would save 2,200 facilities and related jobs,” he answered. “Well, if you heard that, so did the company, so they must have known what we expected. Now it’s up to the company to ‘do the right thing.’” Was this guy born yesterday?!

Class Struggle Building For Revolution Our Only Hope

CHALLENGE readers have been discussing the bosses’ worldwide economic crisis. We agreed that the crisis has “upped the ante.” For example, this union meeting made it even clearer that we can’t rely on “contract language” to protect us from the bosses’ attacks.

Many still cling to the hope that Obama will save our skins, but even he’s announced his intention to go after Medicare and Social Security. Cuts in these two programs are racist since black and Latino retirees are more dependent on these government programs. Like all racist attacks, they end up hurting the whole working class.

The union’s reliance on contracts and Democratic Party politics is a failed strategy. Every layoff, foreclosure, theft of our pensions and medical care must be met with revolutionary, anti-racist class-conscious struggle. Strikes, big and small wildcats, shop walkouts and sit-ins, and increased circulation of the revolutionary communist CHALLENGE newspaper are among the most effective ways to meet these attacks.

This is no doubt a tall order. Only the slow but intensified class struggle on the job and for revolutionary communist ideas among our fellow workers, centered in activist readers groups, will prepare the ground. Keeping our eye on the revolutionary ball will eventually produce the numbers of communists we need to end the bosses’ capitalist nightmare once and for all.

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Boeing Welcomes Back Workers With Layoffs

SEATTLE, November 23 — The ink has yet to dry on the new Boeing contract, but the bosses are already waging class war against aerospace workers. In the process, the bosses are making it clearer than ever that workers can win this war only with a revolution for communism.

Within days of returning to work, the company told Facilities Maintenance workers it planned to cut the workforce 10%, using outside contractors to do the work more cheaply. Commercial Chief Carson implied layoffs would start for the rest of us by the end of next year and now Boeing announced 800 layoffs at its Witchata plant. So much for job security! But the sharpest attacks were reserved for subcontractors.

As reported in CHALLENGE, 1,000 Vought subcontractor workers in Nashville, Tenn. struck a few weeks after we did. These Boeing subcontractors soon had to face busloads of scabs, escorted into the plants by local cops. Last week, the union got the Federal Mediator to resume talks with the company. They quickly fell apart when company negotiators arrived with armed guards.

In South Carolina’s Vought plant, which makes the 787 Dreamliner’s rear fuselage, 240 workers joined the International Association of Machinists (IAM) over a year ago. This was touted as a huge victory for unionism in the largely non-union southern aerospace corridor. But after a year the union had still not ratified a contract.

Not wanting negotiations to drag on past the first anniversary (when the company could call for a new certification vote), IAM Grand Lodge Representative Joe Greaser called an “emergency meeting” for 4 PM Friday, November 7. Few workers knew about it.

Later, Greaser announced 92% of the membership had accepted the new contract. He failed to mention that only 13 workers showed up, according to quality inspector Paul Gaudrault, who was the sole dissenting vote.
Vought was “surprised to learn that its employees apparently ratified a contract that was not its final offer.” The workers were furious.

Mechanic Pam DeGarmo said the 1½% annual guaranteed wage increase wouldn’t even cover the new union dues and inflation. About 200 workers will be laid off temporarily because of the two-month strike at the Puget Sound plants. Gaudrault said some of his fellow workers are thinking about not returning “because the contract is so horrible.”

The union leadership here refuses to talk about these outbreaks of class struggle — and these workers are in the same union! “They [the union misleaders] are more than willing to complain about the poor fate of 751 [our District Lodge],” declared a member of our CHALLENGE readers group, “but they won’t talk about others. We’re all part of the working class!” CHALLENGE readers here plan to fight for a more class-conscious response in the union and among workers on the floor.

Had there been CHALLENGE readers groups in South Carolina, like those being consolidated in Seattle, they could have mobilized workers nationwide to back this “watershed” organizing effort; led solidarity rallies and picketing; and organized illegal strikes to fight the company’s terms.

Most importantly, these fight-backs could have been turned into schools for communism with large sales of our paper and a struggle to bring communist ideas to life. Such fight-backs alone can’t solve capitalism’s crises of overproduction. The attacks, like those on autoworkers, can only sharpen. Ultimately, the rivalry among the world’s imperialists will lead to world war. CHALLENGE readers groups can advance the struggle to help turn this into class war, with communist revolution.

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Boeing Sellout: An Attack on All Workers; REJECT IT!

(Since this article was printed the Boeing contract was voted and approved by about 75% of the workers while about 25 % voted no.)

As we go to press, the company and the union have hashed out a new sellout offer. This is not just betraying Boeing workers. The International Association of Machinists (IAM) and pro-capitalist AFL-CIO misleaders are helping the bosses attack all workers’ wages and conditions.
We need to vote “NO!” and surround the plants with mass picketing to really shut the company down. Today, one worker at our weekly luncheon meeting said, “I’m voting “No” because it will screw the next generation.” All agreed. We must expand our modest Party-led efforts to build striker-subcontractor worker anti-racist, international unity and organize solidarity rallies among our supporters locally and nationally.
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney has attacked our “repeated work stoppages,” inviting the pro-capitalist union mis-leaders to help him “change this dynamic.” They’ve obliged in this sellout. It’s similar to the one we rejected, which sparked this strike initially — except it’s a four-year contract, not the traditional three. (We’ve struck three of the last four contracts.)
Essentially this means a lower wage in the 4th year: normally the biggest increase is up front in the first year, but now what would have been a bigger increase in the first year of the next 3-year contract becomes a smaller one as the 4th year of this contract. For example, pensions increase a scant 2% in the 4th year, not even enough to keep pace with inflation.
New younger workers are attacked the hardest. Starting wages have been frozen for 15 years. Now the offer of a $2.28/hr increase is less than the $3.82/hr advance in the state’s minimum wage over the last 15 years! This contract preserves the same wage increase but over four years, not three. New hires will still make an average of $15/hour in 2012 — if they can get a job at Boeing! The subcontracting regime stays put with a few insignificant face-saving changes in language.
Company-Union Gang-Up Dampens Class Struggle
To win acceptance of this latest contract offer, both the company and the union want to isolate us strikers and wear us down. Both fear any sign we might put our faith in the might of a united working class.
Significantly, the IAM leadership sabotaged any attempt to hold a support rally at Corporate Headquarters in Chicago (see letter page 6). We exposed this treachery to dozens of workers we’ve visited. Every one responded, “That figures!”
Given all this, one crucial measure of success is how many strikers and supporters are won to seeing the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party as the indispensable organization of the working class. There are two new Party-led study groups and other CHALLENGE readers who’ve agreed to attend Party club meetings.
This is a product of having organized numbers of rank-and-filers to build unity with subcontractor workers, to request and receive support letters and to speak at meetings of workers and students for the first time. One worker at a check distribution point, upon hearing about the need for this unity, exclaimed, “So it’s not us against them, it’s all of us against the company!”
“I’m new to all this,” said a striking CHALLENGE reader who traveled to Los Angeles to personally give the “thank you” letter he wrote (and helped gather signatures for) to Boeing union and non-union subcontractor workers who the Party has organized to support our strike. “But it seems to me,” he continued, “that you can advance your revolutionary [communist] cause by first educating workers and students like those here about the history and ideas of your movement and through action.
“I can’t speak for all the 27,000 Boeing strikers, but I was impressed by the letters of support from subcontractor workers and was inspired by the response of Los Angeles high school students. I’ve heard how these workers that supported us slave under horrible conditions. The most important thing you can do is advance that struggle here. Pick a factory, any factory! You have enough to fight here to keep you busy for a lifetime!”
Between the two LA meetings involving 85 union and non-union workers and students, black, Latino and white, and a similar support dinner in Chicago, we collected more than enough to pay for our tickets to the LA solidarity event and the continued distribution of over 1,000 CHALLENGES per issue and tens of thousands of communist flyers. Overall, in the strike in Seattle and among the Boeing subcontractors in LA, we’ve distributed over 40,000 PLP flyers and 17,000 CHALLENGEs since the beginning of our industrial summer projects in July.
Local college students, inspired by the emerging anti-racist, international unity between strikers and subcontractor workers, wrote their own leaflets about this outstanding development. They’ve organized through their campus groups to bring students to the picket lines. Internationally, we’ve received more than a dozen support letters (often with donations). Hundreds of rank-and-filers organized by PL’ers have taken the initiative to support us, by-passing the union misleaders.
Our weekly CHALLENGE readers’ luncheon group wrote another “thank you” note to these hundreds who’ve supported us internationally, stressing the need to mobilize the might of a united working class. It advocates mass pickets to shut down the bosses, organizing huge solidarity rallies based on anti-racist unity locally, nationally and worldwide. When we brought this letter to the picket lines for signatures, the overwhelming majority of workers who talked to us signed.  We’ve also sent a support letter to the Bronx, NY Stella D’Oro strikers linking their struggle to the anti-racist, international unity we aim to build between subcontractor workers and ourselves.
The Revolutionary Communist PLP: Indispensable Organization Of The Working Class
Boeing CEO McNerney says decent wages, benefits and job guarantees are “unsustainable” in this period of intensified inter-imperialist rivalry exacerbated by “global financial turmoil.”  The pro-capitalist union hacks agree by running to support the bosses’ global subcontracting regime. They only want a few “ancillary jobs” to remain unionized (which the new contract offer may not include) so they can stay in business.
Most workers have learned from their own experience not to trust the pro-boss union mis-leadership, condemning them in language we can’t print here. Given the worldwide capitalist economic crisis, some are even questioning the viability of trade union reform, particularly around job security. No organization that is dedicated to preserving capitalism can provide viable answers for our class.
We will need many more Boeing CHALLENGE sellers to maintain the mass character of our paper now evident among strikers. As the economic crisis opens the door, we have to rush in with CHALLENGE and our revolutionary alternative to the bosses’ plans for war, racism and rapidly accelerating attacks on our livelihoods.
A CHALLENGE reader who is joining our study group declared, “You have to know what’s going on in the world and how the world works just to survive these days.” He knows that our Party — through his reading and selling CHALLENGE, through the discussions and organizing at the CHALLENGE readers’ lunch, and through the anti-racist, international solidarity and class struggle we are attempting to build — gives him the tools to survive. As they say, revolution is the only solution. Now that’s worth a lifetime of struggle.J

LA support
PLP members took picket signs, leaflets and CHALLENGES to a Boeing plant of UAW members in Long Beach, California. Some said that while they support the Seattle strikers, the IAM leadership “steals jobs from us!”
We told them that all Boeing workers have the same enemy and the same interests. “We aren’t supporting the leadership of the IAM or the UAW. They’re trying to divide you. We’re communists. We’re building unity between Boeing workers in Seattle, Boeing workers in Long Beach, Vought workers, and the subcontractor workers who also work for Boeing.” Most workers were then more than willing to get CHALLENGE and our leaflet which stated “Workers Power is our only Security.” Our signs supported the Boeing strikers and also said  “Warmaker Boeing—stop super-exploiting subcontractor workers!” As the Seattle striker said, Long Beach workers, under the same attacks as workers in Seattle, should strike too!
We also held solidarity dinners with Boeing strikers, raising over $700. Subcontractor and other workers, students and teachers vowed to increase our support for the Boeing workers and fight to increase CHALLENGE sales to build communist class consciousness.

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H.S. Students Support Boeing Strikers

Dear Boeing Strikers,
We are a group of students in Los Angeles who read about your strike in CHALLENGE. The following are statements from some of  us:

* A strike can make a difference. As the daughter of a working-class family, I know the struggles and hardship the working class goes through on a day to day basis. I know that the strike will be successful due to the fact that workers are the ones who make this world. All the wealth that the bosses have comes from the working class; we create their profits. If the workers go on strike, the bosses aren’t making any money.
* It is important that this article talked about unity. Our class, the working class, is strongest when all of us — union and non-union alike — are lined up together against our common enemies.
* I learned about the important role of workers who make airplanes; especially war planes. It’s good that we have the power to stop making airplanes. If we want to stop the war, you guys are really important.
* Unity among workers — citizens and non citizens, students, and every single person who belongs to the working class — is important. We are all struggling to get what we need, but if we don’t unite, there’s no point. We want to end the bosses’ rule because in one way or another, workers are being exploited. Here in California we have a lot of immigrant workers who get paid less than many others.
* It’s an inspiration to me as a working class comrade to see all of you out there on the front line everyday in unity, side by side, fighting back. I just want to say on behalf of the youth of LA, you have all of our support. Tough times are ahead. I just hope you all can keep your chins up and fists in the air. We all can win this fight and will, sooner or later. Many of the bosses will try to put you down and divide the workers, but if you all keep the unity, you are a strong force. Keep up the struggle.

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Union Sellouts in Bed with Boeing: WORKERS’ POWER IS OUR ONLY FUTURE

SEATTLE, WA, October 14 — The six-week strike by 27,000 Machinists against Boeing looks as intractable as ever after talks between the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and the company broke down, just a day after they resumed. There is tremendous anger among the rank and file who are holding the line in a very solid strike. Financial problems are weighing heavily on many as the worldwide capitalist financial meltdown forces the realization of how serious this struggle has become.

It’s reaching a point among some workers where discussion of revolution becomes much more logical. This was revealed in how workers answer the union hacks’ red-baiting. When the misleaders see CHALLENGE and PLP leaflets being handed out, they say, “we don’t want that crap here,” to which a worker retorted right in front of the sellouts, “I read that paper, give one here!” Discussion of revolution follows. The hacks end up being isolated.

The latest deal-breaker involved outsourcing jobs of workers who deliver parts to the assembly line. Mobilizing the might of a united working class is the only way to break through this logjam.

The union agreed to allow suppliers to enter Boeing plants and deliver their parts to receiving areas beside the assembly line, work now performed by IAM members. The union insists, however, that those jobs — inventorying, tracking and dispersing these parts — remain in the IAM, now and in the future.
The company discussed protecting current IAM members in these categories from layoffs during the three-year life of the contract, but refused to guarantee these 2,000 positions would remain as union jobs over the long haul.

“Once we work out this ‘job security’ stuff, all the rest will fall into place,” said international aerospace coordinator and head negotiator Mark Blondin. But don’t hold your breath; his definition of job security and any real-world security are miles apart.

CEO Is Serious About Fascist Economic Regime

These latest negotiations began as Boeing CEO James McNerney outlined his vision of corporate fascism in the now infamous “Monday memo” issued last week. Citing the “ongoing turmoil in the financial markets,” this three-page internal letter mirrors the U.S ruling class’ plan to re-industrialize through racist super-exploitation in the subcontractor factories. When he talks about “flexibility to run their business in the face of intense global competition,” he means using these racist attacks on subcontractor workers as leverage to attack employees in the traditional union plants as well.

He “see[s] tremendous pressure coming from ” competitors like Airbus and emerging aerospace powers like Russia, Japan, Canada, Brazil and, in particular, China. He then attacked our “track record of repeated [strikes],” vowing to “change this dynamic.”

“U.S. auto companies, for one, fatally wounded themselves by promising unsustainable wage and benefit levels…and job guarantees,” he continues. Explaining why the company cut off negotiations, Boeing spokesman, Tim Healy, put it even more bluntly. “No company can guarantee jobs,” he admitted. In other words, a decent life under capitalism is unsustainable. A system that can’t sustain a decent life doesn’t deserve to continue.

McNerney failed to mention that his buddy on the Boeing Board, Edward Liddy, just got an additional $35 billion from the Feds, on top of $85 billion in the last two weeks, to rescue the insurance giant AIG from its speculative excesses. Nothing the strikers are asking for even approaches this sum. The joke on the picket lines is that we should change our name to AIG. Then the bosses would throw money at us, instead of trying to starve us into submission.

The pro-capitalist union leaders’ answer to McNerney’s memo was pathetic. They scurried to Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Scott Carson to reaffirm their support of the company’s global subcontracting regime. They pleaded for a few “ancillary [related] jobs at local factories” to remain in the IAM.  Even throwing our class brothers and sisters in the subcontractors to the wolves doesn’t seem enough to keep these class collaborators in business.

Communist Ideas: The Alternative To Fascist Capitulation

In stark contrast to the company’s fascism and the union’s capitulation, stands Progressive Labor Party-led organizing and literature. On average, more than a thousand strikers have read CHALLENGE every issue throughout this strike. We’ve distributed thousands of additional Party leaflets advocating mobilizing the united might of the working class. The latest called for anti-racist, international unity with subcontractor workers, mass picket lines and production for need under communism as the only real-world answer to the bosses’ divide-and-conquer strategy. “Workers’ power is our only security,” it declared.

A relatively smaller group of strikers who regularly read CHALLENGE have met every week throughout the strike to put these ideas into practice. Some sell the paper as well; more should! We have scheduled dinners during and after the strike (whenever that is) aimed at asking strikers and supporters throughout the city to buy subscriptions to CHALLENGE, and join PLP.

The mass sales and distribution of communist literature — and the mostly positive response of strikers — have inspired our friends at these meetings to have a more bold approach to organizing their fellow strikers around anti-racist unity (not to mention, giving the sellouts fits!).

One reader wrote a “thank you” note to L.A. subcontractor workers who have supported our strike. Building on the Party’s success distributing CHALLENGE, he organized a small group of strikers to “hit” the strike-check distribution centers to publicly get signatures on it. The hacks backed off as friends and strangers alike signed.

It inspired us all to see our friends — who had never done anything like this before —  develop convincing arguments to win their fellow strikers to this modest show of anti-racist working-class unity. Eventually we hope to personally present this “thank you” to subcontractor workers.

Last week, these CHALLENGE readers collectively prepared an answer to McNerney’s vision of corporate fascism — which really proved the validity of PLP’s politics — to be posted on the internet. This week we are discussing how to expand our modest attempts at class solidarity to industrial factories nation-wide. The situation calls for mass picketing, which could really up the ante. There is talk of going to other local unions and student groups, not only for support resolutions but for other workers and students to join the picket lines, as well as to force the union to organize such mass action.

Modest as these efforts are, they represent the only way forward. The company and the union misleaders are thinking about the long haul, not just the life of this three-year contract. So, too, do those of us more dedicated to the revolutionary potential of our class, with the communist vision of eliminating this profit system.

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Boeing Bosses Part of Rulers Who Oppress All Workers

The Boeing bosses are part of a ruling class oppressing workers worldwide. Their Board of Directors is linked to some of the country’s largest corporations and biggest Wall Street investment houses who are looking to make a killing out of any bailout scheme that the bankers and their politician servants can work out. But they also have their hands full these days, with the strike and the financial crisis.

The top Boeing bosses run not only Boeing but they and their class run the whole country, and both political parties.

For example, Boeing director Edward Liddy is also a director of manufacturing giant 3M and (till recently) financial giant Goldman-Sachs. His 3M, like Boeing, makes profit the old-fashioned way, by exploiting workers who create value from making products. However, his Goldman Sachs has been profiting the deregulated way, by gambling and cheating — speculating in the markets and selling bad debts — because it was temporarily more profitable than investing in production.

But the new way has problems. Said the NY Times, “A significant portion of the financial boom…seems to have been unrelated to economic performance and thus unsustainable.” So now Liddy and his cronies are getting the government to bail them out.

Their Goldman Sachs is taking advantage of the bankrupting of competitors like Lehman Bros. Had insurance giant AIG failed, it might have taken down Goldman Sachs, but the government bought, and saved, AIG — and Goldman Sachs. Now Liddy is the new CEO of AIG! Boeing director John Biggs is also a director of JP Morgan Chase and former CEO of TIAA-CREF, the national teacher’s pension fund. His successor there, Herbert Allison, is now head of Fannie Mae (currently on government life support).

While a bailout may be advantageous to these bosses, they still have to sell it — to Congress, U.S. workers and to international capitalists. If the world’s bosses don’t go along, it could endanger the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Another Boeing boss, William Daley, is a key Democratic Party power broker and an Obama “senior advisor.”His brother Richard is currently Chicago’s mayor, and a big Obama backer. These Democrats are trying to convince workers and youth that “Republican greed” caused the meltdown and that Barack will lead them to the promised land of regulated capitalism. Obama’s main job is to win U.S. youth and workers to sacrifice blood and sweat for these thieves’ continued rule.

Although these Boeing bosses know they can count on Obama to serve Wall Street, some are backing his rival McCain (elections are unpredictable). Another Boeing boss, Kenneth Duberstein, is a director of Big Oil’s ConocoPhillips and was once Republican Reagan’s chief of staff. He’s a long-time McCain advisor and member of Timmons & Co., a leading lobbyist firm. McCain named its CEO, William Timmons, to lead his transition team.

Duberstein, a champion of unregulated capitalism, was also a Fannie Mae director. From 2002-2006 his firm advised that mortgage broker on regulatory matters — how to keep the scam going!
So, the Boeing Board members know that whoever becomes president, he will be tied to the same jackals that caused the meltdown in the first place.

They may have the election sewn up, but they still must convince the world that the U.S., while possibly going bankrupt, is still the only superpower. They plan strategy in the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefeller/Morgan-sponsored think-tank that (“unofficially”) plots U.S. foreign policy. Its members include Boeing bosses Biggs, Daley, and Duberstein!

These bandits know they’re in deep trouble. Basically they didn’t make enough profit the “old-fashioned way” so they deregulated, starting with Reagan and growing under Clinton. Instead of investing in industrial production, they had to resort to scams like subprime mortgages — that the old rules made difficult — to make a fast buck.

Now they want to re-industrialize, but not making washing machines and hair dryers. What money remains will be spent on armaments to control the world’s oil supplies and destroy their rivals’ productive capacity.
They want to bail themselves out. But ultimately it’s workers’ loss of homes, jobs and health care, earning slave wages that would bail them out, in their drive to reindustrialize for war production to fight imperialist wars.

The union wanted strikers to come into this battle blaming black, Latino and Chinese subcontractor workers. But when one seller held up our CHALLENGE strike Extra and shouted, “Read how L.A. subcontractor workers support Boeing strikers,” she was cheered.

Based on this experience, a Boeing CHALLENGE reader wrote a “thank you” note from us strikers to L.A. subcontractor workers who have sent support letters and spoken at some of our BBQs. It was the first political document he’s written. He presented it to our group that meets at a nearby restaurant. He knew the union would stonewall any effort to build multi-racial, international unity between non-union subcontractors and us so he proposed a way to gather many rank-and-file signatures right now. Another shop steward agreed to sell more CHALLENGES after this discussion.

Small, but useful, victories as the strike goes on.  Holding the line while struggling to advance PLP’s revolutionary communist line.


We the CHALLENGE readers express our solidarity with the Boeing workers.
We support our brothers and sisters in their struggle against the Boeing company.
Boeing recently made $20 billion in profit from super-exploiting Boeing workers yet Boeing refuses to meet the economic demands from the workers.
However, the bosses’ government is spending billions in taxpayers’ money to bail out the banks, mortgage and insurances companies, while millions of U.S. workers’ wages have stagnated and health and pension benefits have grown stingier.

We, the CHALLENGE readers, are contributing $70 towards your struggle.
Keep up the fight against the bosses at Boeing.

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On wednesday at 6pm IAM members went in to vote on the contract. By 7:30pm the IAM leadership had ordered all the picket signs to be locked up. At 9:30 after the results were read (80% against the contract, 87% to strike) Local union reps Blondin and Wroblowski told the members at the union hall they weren’t going to go on strike. People started booing and yelling “sell-out!” The union had provided the vote counters with fried chicken and soda so after the booing began people started throwing chicken bones and soda bottles at Wroblowski and Blondin. The shop stewards who were assigned to be their security detail told them to run. They ran to their office and locked themselves in. They then sent out the PR person thinking that since she was a young attractive woman she would receive better treatment. Wrong! She enjoyed a rain of chicken bones and had to run away while the union hall was torn apart. Meanwhile Wroblowski and Blondin escaped to the airport to fly off to Disney World in order to engage in closed door negotiations with the IAM President, Governor Gregoire, a federal mediator, and the Boeing reps. It was apparently on Gregoire’s order that the strike was postponed. These pics are from this meeting.

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This was a pre-strike vote rally that the IAM put on. There were about a thousand people there and we handed out all of our 500 communist leaflets in 30-45 minutes. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive and we had no attacks or smart ass comments.

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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.

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Puget Sound, WA,  August 30 —“Strike, Strike” reverberated down the Auburn plant aisles. Thousands or Boeing Workers marched outside negotiations near the airport chanting, “Out the Gate, in ’08.” Seven thousand emptied the Everett complex for three days running taunting the company to  “Paint the Lines,” a reference to the green lines security traditionally paints around the factories to mark where picketers shouldn’t cross. These marches followed a month of Rolling Thunder: workers banging their tools making a deafening sound like thunder rolling through the plants, every hour on the hour. Boeing workers have taken matters into their own hands, forcing the union mis-leadership to recommend a strike Sept. 4.

This militancy did not arise spontaneously. For years, PLP helped lead mass rebellions in Boeing plants building Rolling Thunder, organizing mass marches and protest rallies as part of class struggle against the bosses and their imperialist plans for the aerospace industry. The union misleaders have tried to appropriate the tactics, but it got away from them. As IAM District President Tom Wroblewski lamented,  “Once you get these guys up the mountain, it hard to get them back down again.”

Workers should harbor no illusions that this militant activity alone can reverse the sharpening attacks on our class. Millions must be guided by communist, class-conscious ideas, organized by the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party (PLP), in order to truly change society.

Global capitalist competition causes the general trend to attack industrial workers, particularly younger, newer workers. The rising industrial and military prowess of Russia and China, the U.S. bosses’ main imperialist competitors, gives new urgency to the U.S. bosses’ need to retool and cut costs. In addition, the racist super-exploitation of subcontract workers, those working in a rapidly growing number of non-union, low-wage sweatshops, is changing the face of the aerospace industry.

Reject the “Kick Your Kids to the Kurb (KKK)” Contract! Strike!

Boeing is flush with cash at the moment, having made more that $13 billion in profit in recent years. The bosses, however, feel pressed to hold every penny as they look to the sharpening fight against their imperialist rivals. The union misleaders, meanwhile, are bickering over how much of this cash they can get to bribe older union workers to sell out the next generation.

Between 2006 and 2008, average Boeing wages have dropped $6/hour because of lower rates for new hires agreed to in prior contracts. This contract will lock in the trend of increasing exploitation, as nearly 50% of the Boeing workforce, those currently earning the highest wages, will retire in the next few years.

The tactics may differ, but in the end, aerospace workers will suffer the same fate as their class brothers and sisters in auto and other industries. More work will be subcontracted to the non-union shops; union workers will face lay-offs or lower pay in the current plants. We must not accept this contract. Workers must strike!

Workers Debate Dismal Future Under Capitalism

Progressive Labor Party called for a “United Aerospace Strike” in our well-received flyer at the airport demonstration. We included solidarity statements from Mississippi shipyard workers, Long Beach Boeing workers and L.A. subcontractor workers. Every statement warned of “losing higher-paid jobs to lower paid, non-union employees at an alarming rate.”

The battle for the hearts and minds of the Boeing workers is as sharp as the sound of Rolling Thunder. The pro-capitalist union leaders offer ideas that will not challenge the bosses’ system. They blame the bad contract offer and the loss of union jobs on “this blatant example of corporate greed.” That’s why they tried, and failed, to start the chant “Boeing’s offer is unfair, all we want is our fair share.”

Workers debated the unions’ ideas for hours on the shop floor, with many rejecting the misleaders’ analysis. We built this factory with our labor, and our class, the working class, should control it!

As the bosses fled Rolling Thunder, we organized meetings of CHALLENGE readers in the plants. Riffing on the debates initiated during the Party’s July Summer Project, we discussed how bad ideas undermined the Chinese Revolution. We learned how Chinese revisionists –– misleaders who revised revolutionary ideas to take power back from the working class –– defeated the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, and consolidated capitalism’s hold on China. They busted up the communal farms, sending the equivalent of the U.S. population into the new Chinese factories at dirt-cheap wages. The imperialist rivalry has never been the same.

Kick Capitalism To The Curb

We also discussed how capitalism reinforces racism, sexism and imperialism. We discussed how the dog-eat-dog capitalist economic base makes it impossible to mitigate, let alone eliminate, these divisions in the working class. “How can communism succeed when we are so divided against each other?” asked our friend.

We examined the different economic base in a communist system, based on the collective strength of the international working class and the slogan “from each according to their commitment, to each according to their need.”  We debated whether a movement guided by communist politics that smashed the ruling class and revolutionized the economic base could indeed change how workers interact with each other. The road to workers’ power is built on  fighting these evils of capitalism right now in this contract battle. But many agreed that the final defeat of racism, sexism and imperialism requires a communist revolution.

Everybody agreed this was a long, hard fight, made doubly difficult by the defeat of the old communist movement. One friend said, “A light bulb turned on” when PLP members explained how concessions to the wage system made by the old movement doomed it from the start.

In the end, the choice was made clear: we could kick our kids to the curb or kick capitalism to the curb. We left these discussions resolving to sell more CHALLENGES, distribute PLP basic documents Road to Revolution III and IV, organize two PLP study groups and build our revolutionary forces. As we go to print it looks like we’ll strike on Sept. 4. Either way, the future is ours if we build these revolutionary communist forces in our industry and throughout the working class.

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