On rare occasions as a Boeing worker, your manager may actually express appreciation for your workgroup as being the company’s “most valuable asset.” The deluded in your group may actually feel your manager is expressing some genuine acknowledgement of the value of your workgroup’s hard work to the company itself. You know better, however.
The company calling their workers “their most valuable asset” shows its true meaning for the company in times like these, when the company's true value for their workers is laid bare for all to see.
The IAM (my union, of which I am still a member of even while “excommunicated” from Boeing for outing some of the bloodier skeletons in their closet to, unfortunately for the public, “Boeing owned” authorities and politicians) is now going through negotiations with the self described “most arrogant company on the face of the planet,” and Boeing’s arrogance is showing in full force during the process.
Despite a record 13 billion in profits over the last six years, the company is insisting on takeaways from union members in their “Best and Final Offer.” The medical plans proposed are riddled with them, despite medical cost increases moderating over the past few years from past excesses. They are even so “bottom line” and anti-worker focused that their contract denies workers a 40 cent per hour wage increase they would have gotten this month if the current contract had remained in force. They are taking advantage of the contract expiration to screw their “most valuable asset” in every way they can, in the proverbial ass, nonetheless.
This shows exactly what Boeing means by calling their workers to their faces their “most valuable asset”—they are not inferring that Boeing Management values their workers in any way other that financially—it is merely an expression of what is chiefly on Boeing Management’s minds when it relates to their workers, and especially unionized workers, who they cannot just pay whatever they wish to pay without negotiating with their representatives first.
Boeing views their workers as just numbers—financial numbers. Each is easily replaceable in Boeing’s view and has no value individually as a person to arrogant and heartless Boeing Management. Boeing saying workers are their “most valuable asset” is not a complement to workers in any respect. It is just an acknowledgement by Boeing that it considers that the costs of pay and benefits for its workers are one of the largest line items in its budget, and therefore something it must cut in cost and numbers with the ruthlessness it has shown in the current IAM negotiations where their true view of employees as each having a target on their back for elimination has come into full view for all to see.
In fact, Boeing treats its employees like numbers almost every working day except yearly “family days,” where employees are showed how much they are valued by being offered the chance to come in on one of their few weekend days off to get free hotdogs and nearly valueless trinkets from Boeing suppliers for the kids.
Boeing managers even speak of employees like dirt and corpses, literally. Replacing employees who have left the company is called “backfilling.” When Boeing is behind on a program they speak of “throwing enough bodies at the problem to get back on schedule.” They could use different terms that denoted they cared about their workers in these unguarded moments, but they do not. It is the Boeing corporate culture to treat their employees as valueless and worthless, except when it comes to the company money that they rue has to be spent on such mere “bodies.”
With the IAM negotiations, Boeing’s hardball tactics to pay not one more cent than they think they can possibly get away with is laid bare, laying bare their true lack of any respect for their workforce in the process.
Leading these negotiations on the part of Boeing is Doug Kight, a lawyer from Boeing’s infamously law breaking Boeing Legal Department. Mr. Kight was one of the senior attorneys there. He quite likely may know where all of the “bodies” are buried as far as Boeing’s “closet” full of skeletons goes. Being part of the Boeing Legal Department makes him part of a highly unethical group of lawyers that takes Boeing’s power and unequaled arrogance and then doesn’t advise Boeing on how to stay within the law, as you might expect such an in-house legal department to do, but they instead advise Boeing on how to go about continuing to break the law, as I have noted elsewhere on my site. This malpractice of the law makes these lawyers accessories to the law breaking they are abetting.
But with the full arrogance and power of the Boeing Company behind them and depending on them to continue to find ways for Boeing to push the envelope of corruption for further bottom line gains, these complicit attorneys apparently have little to worry about in being held accountable personally for such complicity. In fact, the opposite is true. Look at Mr. Kight's and other Boeing inside and outside attorney's houses and you will find that there are great rewards in so consistently helping the company do the wrong thing and leaving wrecked lives and our national security in the dust.
So, the union likely knew just what it was up against when Boeing assigned one of its best “bag men” as its chief negotiator. There is a reason Boeing calls one of its own programs for employees the “e-legal” program. And that reason is their total absence of any respect for the law due to their arrogance. When they were caught selling illegally militarily sensitive guidance chips (that could be removed and “reverse engineered" for use for more accurate and reliable missiles) as components of airliners to China and other proscribed countries, Boeing did not comply with our country's State Department’s demands for them to stop doing so without the required export licenses. They essentially just told our State Department to “shove it” and kept delivering that technology illegally as part of airliners to proscribed countries just so they could meet their delivery schedules and revenue and profit goals, our national security be damned.
I have been through three strikes in my Boeing career. All were strikes that never had to happen if the company would have just sat down and negotiated in good faith with the union. Instead, Boeing avails itself of its habit of breaking regulations and laws by engaging in only surface bargaining, then just throwing down a months before written BAFO on the table at the last moment and telling the union to take it or leave it.
They also engage in other illegal activities such as what the union just exposed: Negotiating with individual workers rather than the union by in essence polling individual workers on what the minimum they would accept would be.
They do this not only because of their arrogant disdain for following the laws and regulations, but also for their goal of getting the best contract they could get for their own personal goals (management’s) approved via the best outcome they could envision—a vast majority of workers voting against the contract but just a few votes over one third of those workers voting not to strike, resulting in the contract the workers don’t want being accepted by default by the union as they cannot under those circumstances call a strike to force the company back to the negotiating table.
The company could care less if the vast majority of workers would be pissed off and resent the company for such an outcome. After all, worker morale has never been a real concern of Boeing management—getting the absolute cheapest possible “bodies” to do the work for the money is, instead. They are confident their corrupt management can “crack the whip” and make disaffected workers do their jobs despite poor morale. After all, they are just BEMS ID’d numbered “bodies” to Boeing Management, any and all replaceable with a cheaper worker per the contract’s overly long and steep progression step increases if the senior workers at full pay rates can be made angry enough to leave.
Hopefully the workers will have sense enough to vote against this purposely low balled contract by Boeing and strike for their dignity and the interests of themselves as well as the other workers at Boeing and in the community whose wages and benefits are highly influenced by this IAM contract.
They will need good luck and hard work and sacrifice against the forces of arrogance, greed, and lawlessness that is the Boeing of today. I have helped more than most in last strikes. This time I won’t be able to be there, sadly. A good union man, I've never even thought about crossing the line. With Boeing, however, crossing any line, legal or not, to reach management’s personal financial goals is par for the course.
Now you know where the real greed lies--and it isn't with the union. Many non-thinking people of modest means have been brainwashed into believing Boeing workers are lazy and greedy and should be thankful for whatever scraps Boeing throws them, and if they don't like that, they should just leave their jobs rather than try to improve them. Such people are the worst miscreants among us. They have been raised to be management bootlickers and they will forever hold that lowly place and decry any worker who does not also bow down to their management and also lick their "boots." That is the workforce that we need to get rid of in this country--not the fine fighting machinists that have even raised those lowly miscreant bootlickers' wages by their bravery and sacrifice in standing up to their corrupt and greedy management.
(Later comment--Sometimes you re-read your stuff and are amazed. Perhaps too emotional at the end. Taking the other people's misinformed side in an argument is not always wise. We need the union haters here to help pay taxes for the stuff they supported, such as the Iraq War. Maybe some day they will lose their irrational hate for unions. But there is always a cure for the "union problem" if those who want them to go away really want them to go away--treat workers fairly and with the respect they are due. Unfortunately companies like to take advantage of their workers in being Scrooge-like with pay, benefits, and raises, as well as taking advantage of the management-employee relationship to take their personal problems out on their employees. Until companies begin to do right by their workers, there will always be a market for unionization. That is capitalism, which some capitalists seem to ignore. Unions are the hired representatives of the workers they serve.)
The Last Inspector