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Vol. 74/No. 21      May 31, 2010

Boeing strikers say no
to health, pension cuts
LONG BEACH, California—Some 1,700 workers organized by United Auto Workers Local 148 went on strike May 11 at the three Boeing Corporation C-17 plants in Long Beach, Torrance, and Carson, California. As the walkout enters its second week, the resolve of the workers remains firm.

The C-17 is a troop and matériel transport plane. It has been used in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and also in Haiti.

The key issues in the strike are Boeing’s insistence on increased medical and pension costs for employees.

“We’re fed up,” Brian Sullivan, who has worked at the plant here since 1985, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “The medical issue is the main issue for us. The concessions are too much and the company expected us to take it lying down. We won’t.”

Initially the company demanded the right to lay off union members out of seniority, picking and choosing whom they would dismiss. Many Black workers were especially concerned about company discrimination under this contract provision. “You have a lot of Blacks with high seniority, and like many workers who are aging, some aren’t as productive as they were at one time. It was feared that the company would use this as a way to weed them out,” Paul Johnson, a structural assembler, explained to the Militant.

Immediately after a militant march and rally of about 600 workers in front of the plant and the voting down of the contract by 80 percent of the union members, the company issued a statement saying it had listened to the concerns of the workers and withdrew the seniority provision from the table. The contract, however, remained unacceptable to union members.

On May 14 hundreds of strikers marched to the plant from the union hall in Long Beach, about two miles away, for a rally of more than 700 in front of a major entrance to the facility. They were joined by Teamsters, members of the Service Employees International Union, and nonunion, mostly Latino immigrant custodians who work inside the plant. As of May 17 no further talks between Boeing and Local 148 have been scheduled.

Ollie Bivins is a striking member of UAW Local 148.
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Union members march against Massey
Canada: 3,000 workers sustain strike against int’l nickel giant  
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