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The Boeing vote: A double win

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Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers members employed by Boeing in the Seattle area struck admirable blows against their local union bosses' baleful influence by insisting that they have the opportunity to vote on an eight-year contract extension, then by approving it, which ensures they'll build Boeing's new 777X jetliner.

They voted narrowly — the deal passed with 51 percent of ballots cast — for job security, accepting in exchange a pension freeze and a switch from an old-style defined-benefit retirement plan to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan. National union leaders sided with them — and against local union leadership — on whether to vote on this deal, which Boeing offered after 67 percent of the union workers rejected a prior proposal in November.

In the interim, Boeing had been shopping for other 777X work sites, drawing offers of public-money giveaways — incentives and tax breaks — from 23 states, including Pennsylvania, whose offer was rejected on Dec. 20. Ending Boeing's 777X public-subsidy quest, this contract extension ensures that Keystone State taxpayers won't be unwilling venture capitalists for the aerospace giant.

Hopefully, this vote by Boeing workers signals greater determination by union members to decide their own fates, less power for union bosses acting against the interests of the rank and file — and fewer reasons for states to battle among themselves in races to the public-subsidy bottom.

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