‘Right-to-work?’ It’s the wrong answer

The OlympianNovember 21, 2013 

The state Legislature moved swiftly in a special session to extend Boeing’s tax breaks worth $8.7 billion, but the Machinists’ union acted just as quickly — and more resoundingly — to reject a diminished contract offer. For the moment, that vote has thrown open the competition to build the 777X aircraft up for grabs.

Other states, and maybe nations, with lower wage expectations and nonunion workforces will now compete with Washington for tens of thousands of jobs and multiple billions in state and local tax revenues.

It is a cause for concern, but lawmakers must resist the temptation to over-react.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, is already making the absurd suggestion that Gov. Jay Inslee call another emergency special session to consider “right-to-work” legislation. It’s a dumb idea.

If the Machinists are willing to walk away from a contract that most private sector workers would consider generous — average $85,000 wages and excellent health care and pension benefits — imagine what they would do if Boeing allowed nonunion workers onto the assembly line?

Boeing is trying to limit workforce disruptions, not aggravate them.

The Puget Sound area’s aerospace workforce and culture make us a front-runner. We have a lot to offer, and a coming transportation improvement package will sweeten the pot.

Inslee must appoint a team of skilled mediators to bring the company and the union back to the table soon. That’s the best path to assuring Boeing’s legacy stays in Washington.

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