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Bankrupt IAM International Leadership Betrays Boeing Workers

Bankrupt IAM International Leadership Betrays Boeing Workers

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Published by JohnnBrown
IAM leadership joins with bosses and Democratic party to dismantle the defined pensions of the IAM workers and impose the 401K system by 2016. It is not too late for the workers to rise up, throw off the IAM leadership, seize the factory and lead a fight to win back the concessions forced on them with the holiday season revote.
IAM leadership joins with bosses and Democratic party to dismantle the defined pensions of the IAM workers and impose the 401K system by 2016. It is not too late for the workers to rise up, throw off the IAM leadership, seize the factory and lead a fight to win back the concessions forced on them with the holiday season revote.

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Published by: JohnnBrown on Jan 15, 2014
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01/25/2014

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Bankrupt IAM International Leadership Betrays Boeing Workers
In yet another significant major defeat for organized labor, the top leadership of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) in secret negotiations with Boeing, reopened the contract and shoved through a vote of the membership to accept devastating concessions. Devastating not only for the Boeing workers but for all workers who look to their unions to protect defined pensions and wage packages. The contract was not even set to expire until 2016, and despite the fighting spirit of the membership demonstrated by an initial overwhelming NO vote, the IAM leaders bowed down to Boeing’s blackmail threat to move future production to as yet non-existent, non-union  plants, in areas lacking the skilled labor force needed to construct the 777X, This sell-out contract will eliminate the defined pension plan in 2016. Workers will pay large increases in medical premiums and will receive a paltry 1% yearly raise. Boeing new hires will need 20 years plus employment to reach the maximum pay grade, more than three times what it takes now. The contract will extend to an indentured servant-like eight years from 2016 to 2024, with workers bound hand and foot to a no strike clause. The first vote in November was overwhelmingly rejected by the 31,000 IAM ranks, with 67% opposing the 8-year contract extension scam. Coming out in force to vote, the Machinist ranks booed the union leader sellouts that were  pushing concessions. As one Machinist stated,
 I’ve never seen a turnout like this. There was very little in the way of signs or banners. Just a lot of workers making sure they had their say.
1
 The auxiliaries of the Democratic Party within the workers movement did their job for the ruling class, while Democratic Party politicians that included Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the mayors of Seattle and Everett, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray jumped into the fray demanding that the IAM accept concessions. The “International” betrayed the membership from the first, bringing a rotten tentative agreement out of their secret meetings with the bosses. When the ranks rejected it, the IAM tops stepped in and forced a second vote. By changing the procedural manner of the vote counts and holding it during the Holiday season on January 3
rd
, they got it to narrowly pass amid allegations by the ranks of voter suppression and manipulation. As a 35-year Machinist wrote a few days before the vote in
 Labor Notes
:
“This is the one time of year when our membership is completely atomized. Not only are there no union meetings, but we won’t even be able to talk to each other at work! The whole thing stinks. A complicated absentee ballot process was worked up.“
2
 
Another Major Defeat for Organized Labor
This is a defeat for the whole working class. Everywhere pensions are under attack like in Detroit and Chicago, and this defeat will only accelerate those attacks for workers who still have pensions. “Work until you die” is becoming the harsh reality for workers everywhere.
We Say
 
everyone should be guaranteed a full pension and free, quality healthcare and education
, whether they are a Boeing IAM mechanic, Industrial, Agricultural, Office, or Public worker, a teacher or a low-wage fast food worker, and even the victims of long term structural underemployment must be provided a safety net that ends poverty. Socialists called the Johnson War On Poverty a fake at the time and we have witnessed a 50-year war on the poor run by the Republican and Democratic administrations alike! They have devastated and impoverished the black and brown communities, swelled the prisons with millions of unwanted workers and subverted public education, while militarizing the police forces, which terrorize the working class and  poor communities. The capitalist government has proven it cannot provide the basic economic and social guarantees of the American Dream. Their only concern is protecting the 0.1%. This attack comes at a time when Boeing is enjoying huge profits and tax breaks. And even with the concessions, Boeing reserved the right to move sub-assembly production at will. Boeing employs a skilled workforce and they would have to invest in a new plant and find qualified workers to do the job. And meanwhile Airbus would be right there, ready to jump in and snap up the IAM workers if Boeing relocated. Thus there was no excuse for the IAM leaders to cave without a fight.
Not Labor Leaders, but the Labor Lieutenants of Capital
As a Machinist wrote of IAM International President Buffenbarger:
“On December 26 Buffenbarger posted a letter on the IAM website that channels Boeing management. There is no hint of any fight in him; and his portrayal of the contract offer is misleading in the extreme. He paints this offer as a substantial improvement over the first offer (the one we rejected 2-1), by counting as an almost $1 billion gain the fact that we are to keep the progression step  system exactly as it has been for almost two decades! Never mind the fact that the only reason we
 
kept it is that we voted down the first offer, which he spoke of in equally glowing terms! In his calculation of the “gains,” there is no mention of the enormous cut in retirement benefits.”
3
 After the second vote’s results were announced, “…
top officials at the Machinists national headquarters and in Gov. Jay Inslee’s office were almost giddy….
”, the
Seattle Times
 reported,
“…It’s going to be sunny in Seattle for another 40 or 50 years…,” gushed Rich Michalski, who represented the International Association of Machinists (IAM) national headquarters in the 777X negotiations. “Boeing is going to be here forever now.”
4
 
he
Seattle Times
 further reported:
The IAM International’s Michalski, who was in Seattle for the Friday vote, emphasized the “silver lining” of job security. “If you’re a young person, you’ve got a future here in aerospace,”  Michalski said. “Parents and grandparents should be happy….It’s all about being able to compete with the rest of the world,” he added, expressing a common sentiment with Boeing executives.
Wisconsin, Michigan, the Longview ILWU struggle, the Chicago Teacher’s strike, the BART strike…American workers have been willing to wage struggle, but have been betrayed at every step by the chauvinist, bankrupt, pro-capitalist union tops and officials. From secretly meeting with Boeing to reopen the contract to concessions, to  pushing for a shady second vote, the IAM bureaucrats were determined to shove this down the workers’ throats. Bowing to pressure from the workers, the local leadership, the lower echelons of the bureaucratic apparatus, for a  period swung to the side of the outraged workers, but later closed ranks again with the International union tops. This demonstrates in miniature what threat an organized, militant rank and file presents to these labor traitors at the top of our unions and how brittle the hold of this parasitic caste really is. They must maintain an atomized rank and file, so as to count upon a subdued consenting membership which only comes out at its command, and then mostly to phone  bank for the Democrats. As the CWG wrote previously:
The union bureaucracy is a privileged caste within the workers’ movement that derives and maintains its privilege by accommodating the entire power of the working class to capital through  political subordination to the bosses’ governmental apparatus. This is accomplished through the thousands of networks that chain labor's organizations to Big Business's company management, its state, and its political parties. In order to fight, a new generation of worker militants must rise up from the ranks that understand that there can be no compromise between Labor and Capital! The real power lies with the organized working class in alliance with the oppressed based on a  political program of irreconcilable struggle against capitalism. We would not have a labor movement today if past generations of workers had not defied the union-busting laws, injunctions and strike-breaking cops and hired strikebreakers; had not organized mass pickets that stopped  scabs, flying pickets and sit-down strikes; or had they relied on Democratic Party politicians instead of their own collective strength.
5
 The Democratic Party labor-fakers and other union officials unwilling to fight the bosses are an ideological obstacle and need to be swept aside by a resurgent labor movement, so that workers can defend and advance their own interests. The historic gains of labor are all quickly disappearing. The bosses recognize their class interests and they wantonly wage a one-sided class war against the unions, the non-union and precarious workers and the oppressed. Class conscious workers must not let this state of affairs continue.
 
Left Tails of the Union Bureaucracy
The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) has a considerable historic membership and presence in the Seattle area and they could be expected to have trenchant advice for the local labor movement but let’s look at what they said. In a  November 11
th
 Facebook post they tell workers to “…Urge
 your union to mobilize now to support the Machinists and to withdraw all financial contributions from legislators who voted for this outrageous package…,
the CWG would ask the FSP how does this differ from the Gompers policy to reward the ‘friends of labor and punish our enemies’? They say “…
Give your legislators an earful. The legislative hotline is 800-562-6000. Tell them to fund  social services not corporate greed 
.”, and for Washington State (i.e. the bourgeois state) to confiscate Boeing’s
 state-subsidized land, buildings and equipment!
” because “
the entire state would benefit.
If only the capitalist state and the politicians could see the error of their ways!
6
 Does the FSP take a page from Labor's Untold Story and advocate what is objectively called for, sit down strikes and factory occupations? No not a word! Instead of calling on the workers to seize Boeing and run it under workers control the FSP peddles a bogus nationalization, calling on the bosses state to confiscate property paid for by the taxpayer. They tell workers to phone the bosses pet legislators, as if that were a tactic that had ever worked for the working class! Clara Fraser must be turning over in her grave. And labor's untold story remains untold by the FSP! 
 
For their part, the International Socialist Organization (ISO-US,) touts the union “rank and file” divorced from a class struggle political program, with a little bit of trade union militancy thrown in for left-cred. Like much of the left, the ISO will not take on the political fight within the labor movement to oust the servile, treacherous Democratic Party union bureaucracy. Thus the ISO writes:
“Hopefully, IAM members David Clay and Shannon Ryker can unite with other machinists who think like them in building a new rank-and-file network of activists at Boeing--one that can stand up to management, and can provide a lead independent of the union when its leaders refuse to  fight.”
 
When
” the union leaders refuse to fight??? Where in the hell has the ISO been over the last several decades? From PATCO to the UAW to Wisconsin to Michigan to the ILWU struggles to the CTU strike to Boeing, at every step of the way the class collaborationist union misleadership not only refuses to do what is necessary to win, but seeks to channel class struggle into insipid legalism and impotent electoral politics, if not outright surrender. It will take more than a “
rank-and-file network of activists”
 to transform our unions into organizations the working class can use to defend our standard of living; class struggle caucuses committed to political independence and class struggle methods are required. In Chicago the ISO’s method was to betray the solid, militant 2012 Chicago Teacher’s strike and accept concessions.
8
 They pushed to end the strike and take the concessions at the point the strike was having an national impact and was nowhere near being broken. Within the Teacher’s Union their supporters in the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), formed on the basis of a minimal program of union democracy, strong contract and improving education, sold out in the interest of maintaining their alliance with fake left Democrat “strategic partners”. To this day the ISO CORE members will neither take their share of the blame nor will they attribute the share of the blame to their strategic partners, and they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They  put off for another day the fight to save neighborhood schools from closing and Rahm Emanuel succeeded in closing more than 50 of them, without the membership resuming the strike, or even waging effective job actions. This is the ISO’s real record; this is not just our opinion. This was a sellout no less in essence than what the IAM union tops cooked up in collusion with the Boeing bosses. This was betrayal with a “left” face.
9
 Members need to realize the union leaders are not the labor movement. We don’t need workers providing a “
lead”
as the ISO says
 , “independent of the union,”
 (at least not in most cases,) discarding the union structure for new organizational forms. This is a question of tactics. The union bureaucracy is only one part of the labor movement, analogous to a cancerous tumor on the labor body. Our unions belong to the workers as a whole. The workers need to politically separate themselves from the union labor fakers, not the unions themselves, which-in most cases-are still workers organizations, despite their bureaucratized stagnation and prostration before the Democratic Party. We do need rank and file movements for union democracy and accountability, but their victory depends on workers taking on a consciously political fight within
against 
 class collaboration and
 for 
 a class struggle program of workers’ self-organization. Trade unions still represent the organized section of the working class in America. Leftists will face the same  political questions and the same political tasks trying to organize workers independently of the trade unions. The  problem is, our centrist and reformists opponents on left have no political program to take on the union bureaucracy and they become content in their own little leftist sandboxes, at times coming out to play as the left mobilizers of audiences for the union tops, filling in radical voids in the division of labor for the union bureaucracy. See CWG’s critique of the centrists and reformists inside the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC) in
Class Warrior #5: BART STRIKES: Once again on the method and relevance of Trotsky's Transitional Program
 for a more in-depth analysis.
10
 The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which as today’s radical chic is attracting militant youth, will criticize the AFL-CIO/Change to Win unions as business unions. However, in Wisconsin, while they were agitating for a general strike, the IWW was not waging a political struggle against the Democratic Party union leaders who were leading workers to defeat through the recall petition campaign. Nor were they trying to break the workers from their illusions in the Democratic Party. The IWW makes what we call an objectivist error. They offer very little in the way of political program and see little need for one. For them, their favorite line from Karl Marx is the objectively revolutionary character of the working class. For us this is a variety of idealism that relies on a magical, spontaneous development of class political consciousness. This magical development is to result in the working class leaving bourgeois politics and bourgeois parties behind, so there is no reason to politically challenge the friendly reformists’ and their recall campaign. The IWW saves its fire for advocates of the fighting workers labor  party, which they see as more bourgeois politics. In contrast, the CWG does not have a “we won’t step on your toes” gentleman’s agreement with either the union tops or the bosses’ political parties or the capitalist system. Ours is the dialectical view that reuires the vanuard to brin the revolutionar class olitical consciousness to the

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