SEATTLE Jan 10 A Seattle-area Boeing Co
worker is one of two men campaigning to replace national
leadership of the International Association of Machinists in the
wake of bitter infighting over the planemaker's latest labor
Boeing's IAM members narrowly approved the contract last
week, effectively sacrificing their pensions for guaranteed work
on the new 777X jet.
But the contract vote left deep divisions between local
union activists who generally opposed the deal, and the national
union leadership who supported it.
If the local workers are successful in winning control of
the national union, it would likely give rise to a much more
militant workforce that could pose a long-term threat for
Boeing, which has a checkered past with its Seattle-area workers
and has lost 200 days of production over the last 25 years to
Jason Redrup, a member of the Seattle-based IAM local 751,
and Jay Cronk, a former employee of the national union, told
Reuters they are planning to run for vice president and
president of the IAM, respectively.
That would be a direct challenge to R. Thomas Buffenbarger,
who has been IAM president since 1997. It would be the first
contested IAM leadership election in decades, according to local
Buffenbarger disagreed with that characterization and said
that to get on the ballot, he has to garner 25 nominations from
the more than 900 local IAM lodges, as would any candidate.
"We all run for nomination," he told Reuters.
Last August, the IAM agreed to hold new nominations and new
elections for its leadership after an investigation by the U.S.
Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS).
The investigation found the union didn't provide notice of
nomination and "members were denied reasonable opportunity to
nominate candidates when some members were working at the time,"
the OLMS said.
Redrup and Cronk are angry over the way last week's contract
vote unfolded, especially the timing of the ballot on Jan 3,
when Redrup said many of the older machinists - who have earned
more vacation days through seniority - were away from the area.
Older machinists were generally more motivated to protect
their hard-won pensions, whereas their younger colleagues voiced
more concern that failing to vote for the contract would cost
them their jobs if Boeing moved the work elsewhere.
About 8,000 of 31,000 eligible machinists did not cast a
vote last week, as the sweetened contract was approved by only
600 votes in a slim 51 percent majority. A vote on the first
version of the contract, in November, was firmly rejected and
only 5,000 failed to vote.