As of 11 a.m. today, roughly 200 union members had signed up to picket this morning outside the Everett plant. Organizers have made sure that at least four people are outside each of the plant's 12 gates.
Four generations of Richard Bailey’s family have worked for the Boeing company since 1921.
This morning, instead of heading to work at the Everett plant, he picked up picket signs and has been standing just inches from company property on strike.
“My whole family worked here for years, and I won’t have that chance if the company gets away with what they want,” the 41-year-old Marysville resident said.
Bailey is a member of the International Association of Machinists, which represents 18,300 machinists, janitors, nurses, production support, quality assurance and tool and die makers working throughout the Puget Sound region, and in Portland and Wichita, Kansas. The union’s members voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to reject a three-year contract. They went out on strike at midnight.
Bailey was laid off in 2001 as a painter and was recalled this January to take a lower paying job as a janitor. His father, who was laid off from the company in 1972, gave him some advice.
“He said, ‘Stick with it. It’s worth it,’ ” Bailey said. “Every union in the United States is watching this. If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, in a democracy, [corporations] will take over and get rid of all unions.”
As of 11 a.m. today, roughly 200 union members had signed up to picket this morning outside the Everett plant. Organizers have made sure that at least four people are outside each of the plant’s 12 gates. Volunteers have been lining up to bring in their pink picket duty cards and are assigned a four-hour shift, said functional test inspector Dave Muellenbach.
This morning, security guards reached the newly painted green line marking company property to bring picketers donuts. Members of the engineer’s union also dropped off coffee and breakfast. Some managers drove in to work today only to leave few minutes later. Many nonunion employees have been supportive of their efforts, said Stephanni Hoza, who leads a team responsible for building plane interiors.
Hoza said that if she weren’t on strike, she would have been at work at 6 a.m. She said she left a message with her supervisor a few days ago to expect a strike, but she doesn’t expect a response. Her boss is on vacation in Hawaii.
“I would like to be on vacation in Hawaii,” Hoza said, adding that with three children, medical benefits was a huge factor in her decision to strike.
“We were surprised at their low-ball offer. We were willing to help when times were sour,” she said of the lack of a strike three years ago. “But when times are good, we expect to be rewarded.”
Hoza brought her 11-year-old daughter Cheyenne to picket, holding a sign that reads: “My mom needs temporary work.”
“I need a job,” she said laughing. “I can do graphics, project management and catering.”
She added that it’s unfortunate that the President of China Hu Jintao’s scheduled visit to the plant over the Labor Day weekend would coincide with the strike. Many picketers also believed that during Hu’s visit, security would likely move them or ask that they stand across the street from the plant.
“Unfortunately he won’t see us in full production mode,” Hoza said adding that if she could tell Hu anything, it would be: “We build the best airplanes in the world. We will be back.”
At 51, Richard Goff, a toolmaker, said he was concerned about his pension.
“People think we want more money. That’s not the issue. The issue is medical and retirement,” Goff said. “No one wants a bonus or a pay raise. We want our retirement and medical.”
The Marysville resident was laid off three years ago after 22 years with the company. He was brought back this April and was on duty when the strike vote was announced yesterday. Everyone cheered when it was announced, he said, adding that he’s not scared to be on strike.
“I survived one year without bringing in any money on my savings and my wife’s budgeting,” he said.