Our Future, Our Fight: Seizing Momentum for IAM/Boeing Contract Negotiations

This article was featured in the IAM Summer 2024 Journal and written by IAM Communications Representative Elías Flamenco Rivera.

The IAM has been meeting with Boeing members for several years to understand their expectations for the new contract.

Washington state is home to approximately 32,000 hardworking members from IAM District 751 in Seattle and IAM District W24 in Portland, Ore., who are looking ahead to an important date: Sept. 12, 2024. This is the day when the IAM/Boeing contract will officially expire. Although the unit has not been involved in traditional bargaining leading up to the contract expiration since 2008, the Districts started early preparations and member engagement ahead of the bargaining process to be better prepared for what lies ahead as contract negotiations began on March 8.

This negotiation process and its impact stretches far beyond Puget Sound. It affects the livelihoods of workers, their families, and communities across North America and globally that rely on the aerospace industry.

The IAM has been preparing for negotiations diligently, while the Districts’ leadership is stepping up activities within the community, leaving no stone unturned. From the get-go, IAM leadership has been actively soliciting its members’ opinions, time and support as they move toward the bargaining process.

It’s time for Boeing to realize that IAM members have provided them with all the necessary tools for success, and now it’s imperative to ensure that workers are equally successful.

Solidarity among workers ensures that all concerns and interests are addressed. IAM District W24 and Local 63 are in solidarity with District 751 to present a unified front and achieve a strong contract that will benefit all Boeing employees. This move has been driven by the tireless efforts of IAM members, who stand together with their fellow co-workers to demand better wages and benefits.

What’s at Stake

As we look forward to the negotiations for 2024, it is essential to acknowledge the significant and complex work that lies ahead to secure a contract that not only meets the needs of IAM members, but also sets a new standard for the aerospace industry. The negotiation process will be challenging, but the IAM is fully committed to achieving a fair and equitable contract that raises the bar for aviation contracts across the field, and sets the standard for all of aerospace manufacturing.

Members have expressed through surveys that the next agreement should focus on several key priorities to ensure a fair and equitable contract for all parties involved. Firstly, general wage increases are essential to keep up with the rising costs of living and to provide employees with fair compensation for their hard work. Secondly, quicker progression steps will provide opportunities for employees to advance their careers and earn higher wages based on their skills and experience. Thirdly, a comprehensive retirement plan is necessary to support employees in their retirement years and ensure financial security. Fourthly, healthcare cost management is crucial to providing affordable healthcare options to employees and their families. Additionally, members are focused on filling our factories with work for decades to come.

“We need jobs for 50 years, not four years,” said IAM District 751 President and Directing Business Representative Jon Holden. “The fight for future work is not just for members, but for the betterment of all. This collective effort will benefit current and future members, engineers, other Boeing employees, the supply chain, our communities, and generations to come. We are fighting for everyone.”

Moreover, the region of Washington and Portland has been a center of outstanding expertise and innovation, with its proficient workforce dedicated to designing and constructing the best aircrafts in the world. Therefore, the upcoming airplane venture must be developed by the IAM members based in Puget Sound as these dedicated individuals have honed their expertise over generations, resulting in an unparalleled level of precision and quality in each airplane they produce.

The investments made in workers have a far-reaching impact beyond just benefiting the members of the IAM. When companies invest in their workforce, it leads to the development of a highly skilled and motivated workforce. This, in turn, boosts productivity and innovation, leading to better products and services. The increased spending and creating more job opportunities in the community. Hence, investing in workers not only benefits the employees but also helps the local economy to thrive.

Finally, a contract that respects and honors hard work and dedication is paramount to building a positive and collaborative work environment. By prioritizing these key areas, we can ensure a successful and mutually beneficial agreement for all parties involved.

“Ultimately, the goal of these negotiations is to win fairness and justice for our members. This means ensuring that the contract reflects the values and priorities of IAM members and provides the means for a prosperous future for them and their families,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “Achieving this goal will require a collective effort from all our members to come together in unity and fight for what they belie

ve in, the IAM Western Territory is confident that, together, we can win a contract that sets the standard for the aerospace industry and raises our members and their families’ standard of living – Boeing has made billions and our members deserve to receive their fair share!”

The Union’s Preparation

The IAM is aware that it is crucial to ensure that the collective voice of its membership is heard, especially when negotiating their contracts, and that it’s vital to recognize that every member’s voice is unique and essential to achieving a fair and just agreement.

To facilitate this, District 751 has employed various unique communication platforms and tools offered to its members, including steward boards and summits, contract input meetings, and contract meetings in different languages. The significance of providing contract information in various languages cannot be overstated, and the District has already held its first-ever contract meetings in English with Vietnamese and Cambodian interpreters via Zoom.

IAM leadership is standing together for a strong contract during the opening of negotiations.

Gathering input from the membership is a top priority for the District, and it has utilized various methods to ensure that it hears from every member. These include face-to-face meetings, surveys, emails, and Dropbox suggestions.

“Our union stewards are the conduit between leadership and our members. We are ensuring they are armed with all the information needed for the membership to make an informed decision when it’s time to vote on the contract,” said Holden. “But we also want everyone involved to understand each step of the bargaining process and the issues with full transparency.”

District W24 recognized the importance of engaging its members in the decision-making process and has organized a series of contract input meetings at Mt. Hood Community College in Portland, Ore. The meetings are held with the aim of facilitating an open dialogue where members can voice their concerns, ask questions, and provide suggestions regarding the new contract. This initiative was a significant step for District W24, as it marked the first time they had directly solicited input from members at a large scale. The District has sought to engage members more deeply in the negotiation process, and these meetings are a crucial part of that effort.

District 751/W24 has increased its activities within its jurisdiction to ensure that all members covered under the contract are involved and engaged. To better educate the members about the bargaining process, the districts have mandated steward meetings. They have also assigned business representatives and staff to subcommittees to gather input and conduct focus groups. In addition, these districts have established a Steward team to communicate directly with the membership every month about various topics that are important for the contract negotiations.

“This is the first contract for almost half of our members, and it’s the most important one for all of them. We want to ensure their involvement from the beginning and educate them about what we’re doing on their behalf,” said District W24 President and Directing Business Representative Brandon Bryant. “The Membership is the lifeblood of our union and our districts. This contract negotiation is one of the most important things that we do for them. This is our future, this our fight – We are truly fighting for the best future we can get.”

During the past few months, the Districts have arranged a multitude of membership appreciation events including BBQs, to bring members together and provide an opportunity for them to interact with IAM leadership in person.

As a way to promote unity, the Districts are offering Contract 2024 shirts to demonstrate solidarity during negotiations.

Importance of Member Participation

The success of the IAM negotiation process largely depends on the active participation of every single member. It is essential for members to provide feedback on critical issues, participate in union activities, and mobilize support to secure a solid and effective contract for all members.

From now until Sept. 12, and beyond, every member is responsible for playing an active role in the bargaining process. Each member’s collective opinions, time and support carry immense value and will play a critical role in shaping the outcome of the negotiations.

All members must stand in solidarity and work together to achieve a favorable contract that honors their hard work and loyalty. Sharing personal experiences and stories can help build a sense of unity and strengthen the bargaining position of the IAM. Members should take pride in the products they build and strive to set the industry bar high.

“No one can do it alone. It will take all of us standing together with one voice,” Holden said to a group of union stewards at the Everett hall. “For the members on the shop floor, stay informed. This is your contract, your future. An opportunity to negotiate an agreement that sets the bar in the aerospace industry.”

The negotiation process can be a challenging and demanding journey, but with the active involvement of every member, it is possible to achieve a contract that meets the needs and expectations of all members.

“The outcome of this contract is crucial for every community that depends on the aerospace industry. To secure a strong Machinists Union contract for our members, we need everyone’s support,” said IAM International President Brian Bryant. “The 2024 contract is meant for the hardworking employees who have provided the Boeing Company with all the necessary resources to succeed. These workers have put in long hours, sacrificed family time, and prioritized safety while ensuring that build rates were met.”

Fighting Machinists Get Stronger By Building Union Solidarity

IAM members have been expressing their top priorities by coming together at events and showing solidarity.

The current contract negotiations are of immense significance as they will significantly impact the livelihoods of many workers. Workers must stand up for what is right, just, and fair and ensure that the rights and needs of the working class are not overlooked or ignored. As preparations are underway for important events such as the ongoing negotiations, the strike sanction vote scheduled for July 17, and the ratification vote, workers must remember the power of their collective voice, representing approximately 32,000 IAM members.

“To achieve a successful new contract, it is imperative to have unity amongst all members from all Districts and Locals. This means that we all need to come together, stay informed, and take action as a group,” said District W24 President and Directing Business Representative Brandon Bryant. “Our collective efforts are necessary to show Boeing that we are committed to delivering the best contract in years.”

With a strong and concrete contract in place, IAM members are confident they can secure the working conditions and benefits they deserve, without compromising their rights or dignity as workers. This is a critical moment for all Boeing workers, and the IAM is committed to ensuring that their voices are heard and their needs are met. They can build a more just and equitable workplace and help their communities thrive by working together.

“This is our future, our fight, and we are ready for it,” said Holden. “We have spent the last decade listening to members tell us what’s important to them and their families. Many changes are necessary to address the membership’s priorities. We are creating a proposal to address a comprehensive list of membership demands.”

The aerospace industry is expected to undergo a major transformation as a result of the finalized contract. The terms and conditions outlined in the agreement will reflect the ideas, priorities, concerns, and solutions. This agreement will serve as a significant historical record of the sacrifices that workers were ready to make for themselves, their families, and the future generations to come.

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