To get union leaders to pay attention, and finally agree to a contract, Boeing threatened to move to a right-to-work state. These states, like South Carolina, actually like to work and understand competition still exists in the private sector. It’s competition between states, not union leadership, that secured the estimated 20,000 jobs in Puget Sound for the assembly of the new 777X jet. Union leaders can’t get the job done, period. No wonder the percentage of private sector workers in unions is in single digits. The WSJ’s Review and Outlook has more here:
After machinists shot down its initial contract proposal, Boeing received bids from nearly two dozen other states eager for the jobs. Only then did International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Tom Buffenbarger force another vote on a revised contract to prevent union jobs from flying away to right-to-work states in the South. Mr. Buffenbarger may have recalled Boeing’s decision in 2009 to build its 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, South Carolina, to avoid labor disruptions that had slowed production at its plants in Puget Sound.
One reason union membership in the U.S. has shrunk to 6.6% of private workers from 35% in the mid-1950s is that to remain competitive businesses are fleeing union workforces that refuse to change. Detroit was a casualty of this jobs flight, and Seattle may have been another had Boeing machinists insisted on preserving their traditional pensions, which no longer exist in most of the private economy and leave workers hostage to economic fate. A 401(k) lets workers build assets immediately and transport them from job to job. The Boeing vote is a victory for common sense, the U.S. economy, and especially the Boeing workforce.