Obama Protects Western Washington’s Middle Class

One of my least favorite arguments ever is about how little difference there is between the parties. Yes, the Democrats are spineless and often plain bad on policy. But there are huge, important policy differences. At some point in those arguments, someone always brings up how it’s important to get the right federal judges in place. After all, with lifetime appointments and so many important things going on, no doubt the direction of the judiciary matters a hell of a lot. While this is true, because of those lifetime appointments, the judiciary tends to change slowly. In all my lifetime, for instance, the Supreme Court and much of the Federal judiciary has been very conservative.

By comparison, federal boards and commissions turn over much faster. In some cases like the debt commission, the balance is pretty much even, and it wasn’t going to be much more liberal than if a Republican was President. But with things like the National Labor Relations Board, the pendulum swings much faster in the other direction: 2 and a half years into his first term, Obama has already appointed 4 of the board members and the 5th is vacant. And this is largely true with any president: When a Democrat sits in the White House, the NLRB works for workers rights and when a Republican gets to appoint the board, it pushes the agenda of the already powerful.

So it is when the NLRB made a decision to actually enforce the labor rights of Boeing workers. This decision means the broad middle class in Western Washington will continue to grow. That if you maybe didn’t go to college, but are willing to work hard now, that a good job that feeds your family is still within reach. While Microsoft and others are important to the economy of the region, Boeing has always been a great way for many to move into the middle class. And I don’t think an NLRB appointed by McCain would have ruled the same way.

Comments

  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    So it is when the NLRB made a decision to actually enforce the labor rights of Boeing workers. This decision means the broad middle class in Western Washington will continue to grow.

    I did a little happy dance when I saw that.

  2. 3

    Pete spews:

    @2 …was just ruled to be illegal. You got a problem with that?

    Boeing execs made any number of public statements to the effect that they were relocating jobs to South Carolina as punishment for past strikes, and to avoid future ones. Both are blatantly illegal retaliatory actions under national labor law. The current head of the NLRB is a lifetime staffer who’s served under both Democrats and Republicans, and who said the Boeing ruling was not ideological, but one he had no choice on because the law (and Boeing’s behavior) was so clear.

    That law applies in each of the 50 states. So to claim it’s why “Boeing has left this state” is beyond idiotic. Boeing’s final production can’t leave the country (or, as with outsourcing, they would have done so long ago), because they’re so dependant on government contracts that require domestic production. And as long as Boeing is operating in the US (and selling staggeringly overpriced weapon systems to the Pentagon) they have to obey the law. That’s true in Washington, South Carolina, or anywhere in between.

    The fact that Boeing frequently assumes it doesn’t have to follow laws – abetted by Republican administrations’ eagerness to look the other way – is kind of the whole point of Carl’s post.

  3. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Let’s see, how many times has Dreamliner production been delayed? About a dozen? Boeing is lucky it has a near-monopoly on commercial jetliners, because its customers wouldn’t put up with this if they had anywhere else to go. The Dreamliner would be rolling off production lines if Boeing had used local UNION labor instead of outsourcing parts to foreign countries and trying to do final assembly on two different coasts. You get what you pay for.

  4. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Let’s review: Unions provide trained and experienced workers who show up on time, do the work they’re assigned, do it competently, in short are RELIABLE.

    When businesses hire non-union labor, and pay low wages, they get whoever walks in off the street, have to train them themselves, then try to meet production goals with an unskilled and unmotivated workforce.

    One reason so many businesses use union labor is because it’s cheaper in the long run.

    You get what you pay for.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Carl must be reading my comments because all the major elements of this post — the Boeing story, NLRB appointments, appointing federal judges — are items I’ve commented on in the last few days. Nice job in pulling them together, Carl.

    Yes, Democratic electeds are Wall Street lackeys, because politicians of all stripes are captives on a campaign finance system that has thoroughly corrupted our democracy: You can have any politician you want as long as s/he serves the monied interests. The capitalist version of the Soviet electoral system.

    A few days ago, I proposed a constitutional amendment which would declare that (a) corporations are not persons, and (b) corporations do not have the rights of persons. If we want a democracy in this country we have to sweep away the ability of corporations to control politicians and elections.

  6. 7

    Americafirst spews:

    @6 Roger, about your Constitutional Amendment idea, as usual you are right and yes, you were way ahead of Carl on this one. Of course corporations should not have the same rights as real people and the very idea of limited liability for stockholders is an outrage. Look what happened to China when it started allowing limited liability corporations, Chinese workers have been reduced to poverty and China’s whole economy went to hell. That place sure sucks now that Mao is gone. I hope you can get your Constitutional Amendment considered by Congress and a good place to start would be to write each and every one of them now before they get too distracted by the next election.

    But I must say that I don’t think your Constitutional Amendment will solve the Boeing problem; if you take away corporate rights the rich will just take their money to other countries that still give corporations stupid rights. Your Constitutional Amendment must also prohibit the rich from doing that; maybe something like a 100% tax on foreign investments would work and maybe with a surtax on that if they ship jobs overseas also. Maybe 100% isn’t high enough; what do you think?

    Anyway, your idea about a Constitutional Amendment is a good one and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been thought of before.

  7. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    Roger, although I agree with the main point of your post, I wouldn’t agree that Boeing has a near-monopoly on commercial jetliners, by any degree. It is still in a neck-and-neck competition with Airbus on orders and deliveries, and has been for most of the past decade or more. And over the next decade it’s going to face competition from China, where in a heavily subsidized development program two different companies (with interlocking releationships) are building both a single-aisle and wide-body aircraft, scheduled for first flight sometime over the next couple of years.

    On the lower end of the passenger-count spectrum, other competitors are seeking to steal away part of the market now held by the 737-700 and the Airbus A320. Sukoi from Russia and Bombardier with it’s C-series aircraft threaten to skim off as much as 25 to 30 percent of that market share.

    And due to Stonecypher’s procrastination in developing new aircraft to replace those already in the market (that’s another long story), Boeing is now having to look at undergoing replacements for the 737, 747, and 777 – all of which need to come to market within the next eight years or so. (I believe the 747-8 and 747-8 Intercontinental are just interim fixes).

    But what the Boeing board members and executives are just beginning to understand is that building airplanes isn’t a skill-set which is easily transferable to a new work force. They found this out the hard way with the 787. There’s nothing like having veteran machinists with 20 years of experience on the factory floor to help avoid problems and fix the unfixable, as well as train the new guys (those with 5 years or less).

    Heck, even the Chinese understood this, their plans for developing their own commerical aircraft industry anticipated a 25 year program, starting with small repair facilities, building up to major modification projects, and finally putting together new airplanes.

    I’m sure the workers at the Charleston facility can eventually get it together and build a decent airplane. But given the experiences over the past five years there, including the Vought/Alenia disasters, I suspect it’s going to take another five or ten years to get to the point where they can really produce the quality products that the union labor can produce in Everett and Renton. I don’t doubt their intelligence or their work ethic, it’s just a matter of experience and effective quality control by the company.

  8. 9

    Billy Pulpit (identifying stuff) spews:

    Carl, you’re right about the workers at Boeing helping WA to sustain a Blue Collar middle cals here in WA.

    But, don’t forget about all of the orientals residing here who could be laying a lot of track for high speed rail. They’re not only great at laying the track, but with their math skills, you could eliminate the position of Estimator entirely — thereby saving lots of tax dollars!

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 “maybe something like a 100% tax on foreign investments would work and maybe with a surtax on that if they ship jobs overseas also. Maybe 100% isn’t high enough; what do you think?”

    I think we don’t need a constitutional amendment for this; Congress can do it right now. Which is why I didn’t include it in my proposed constitutional amendment. A CA has a better chance of passing, and less chance of getting misinterpreted by righting activist juges, if you keep it as short and simple as possible.

  10. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 “It is still in a neck-and-neck competition with Airbus on orders and deliveries, and has been for most of the past decade or more.”

    Less so than appears, because Boeing and Airbus have different market philosophies, and design very different airplanes. The smaller manufacturers you mention, generally speaking, are building smaller short-haul jets.

    “And over the next decade it’s going to face competition from China, where in a heavily subsidized development program two different companies (with interlocking releationships) are building both a single-aisle and wide-body aircraft, scheduled for first flight sometime over the next couple of years.”

    China can’t even deliver safe milk; who’s going to buy an airplane from the?

  11. 12

    Godwin spews:

    What a load of bullshit. Did Obama fire every administrative law judge on all levels of the NLRB and replace them? No. So I am supposed to give Obama credit for what amounts to a fucking crumb in the larger scheme of things, when he doesn’t deserve any of the credit? Is this to say that unions have to rely on paternalism to get anything? This is such Obama-tool-douchbaggery on display. Screw you, apologists.