Tom Wroblewski, local leader of the Machinists union at Boeing, announced Tuesday that he’ll retire for health reasons effective Jan. 31.
His stepping down comes at a tumultuous moment for the union, whose 32,000 members are badly split. An election for Wroblewski’s replacement will be organized in the coming days, and the next leader will face a massive task to create unity within the union.
The recent vote that passed a contract extension to secure the building of the 777X jet in Washington split the membership bitterly and almost down the middle.
Wilson Ferguson, vice president of the Local A unit, said Tuesday night that whoever is elected, “the big job is healing, bringing the membership back home.”
He said many in the union anticipate that Boeing will come to the union with further demands before the newly agreed contract expires in 2024.
“In a lot sooner than 10 years, they’ll be back at us,” Ferguson said. “We need to be ready.”
Explaining his abrupt decision, Wroblewski cited the stress of the past three months, as Boeing forced concessions on his members.