March 8, 2014 in Business

Boeing Machinists elect new local leader

Dominic Gates Seattle Times
 

SEATTLE – The union representing Boeing Machinists on Thursday elected Jon Holden to succeed Tom Wroblewski as the new District 751 president.

Holden won with 2,163 votes, against two other candidates who together won 682 votes.

Holden, 41, a former Teamster, joined Boeing in 1997 and has been a full-time International Association of Machinists rep for 10 years.

He now has the tough job of trying to heal the internal wounds opened up by negotiations with Boeing that in January sealed the 777X project for Everett while freezing the traditional pensions of 33,000 union members.

The way Boeing conducted the 777X contract negotiations – using the threat of taking away future work to force concessions – had left every Machinist upset with the result, Holden said after polls closed Thursday.

“It feels like this is the worst of the worst times,” Holden said. “The members are angry about the process they just went through and no matter how they voted, they don’t like the outcome.”

“This deal destroyed pensions for everybody, stagnated wages and destroyed the health care as we know it,” he said.

Another difficult job facing Holden is to repair relations with the national union, which took a different stance from District 751 during the 777X negotiations.

In December, representatives of the IAM’s national leaders argued in the media that accepting the Boeing deal would protect jobs and then forced the second vote against the wishes of the local district leaders, including Holden.

In the bitter aftermath, all four local units of District 751 last month endorsed a slate of candidates challenging the incumbent national leadership in an election set for April.

Holden’s predecessor, Wroblewski, retired last month, citing serious health issues brought on by the stress of the high-pressure 777X standoff.

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