A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Machinists strike

In a tough economy, this isn’t the best time to walk the line

Editor, The Times:

I continue to be amazed that the Boeing Machinists union continues to find new and innovative ways to shoot itself in the foot [“Machinists union talking tough,” Times, page one, Sept. 7].

They claim that “job security” is a major issue in their current strike, but seem to be incapable of understanding that their absurd demands for more and more of everything are driving their labor costs to uncompetitive levels, which is the primary reason that jobs are being outsourced.

The company has offered an absurdly generous package, which the Machinists have turned down and on which they’ve decided to strike.

Get real, people! It’s your own greed that is making you noncompetitive with the rest of the country and the world.

— Dale Williams, Sammamish

No, Machinists are right to strike

I hope the Machinists remember the last strike. When Boeing complained that economic times were bad and that employees had to accept cuts for the good of the company, the executives gave themselves $40 million worth of bonuses the week after the strike concluded.

Times are better at Boeing and union members are right to demand their share.

This time, the $40 million should go to the workers and not the overpaid executives.

— Michael T. Barr, Sammamish

Recalibrating their needs

I read with amazement about the angry Boeing workers in Everett throwing their shirts and jackets on the ground in frustration because they so badly wanted to strike.

These are some of the highest-paid workers in the world. They are rejecting a contract that will give them thousands in signing bonuses and an 11-percent raise over three years, while millions of other workers across the nation have lost their jobs and homes. Clearly, the machinists have lost sight of how privileged they are.

Not only are the machinists placing their own futures at risk, but they are undermining the economy of the entire region. A militant, unreliable, strike-oriented work force is exactly why Boeing will choose to move future production away from Seattle. Boeing is locked in a long-term, life-and-death struggle with Airbus. Airline customers want cheaper planes. The Machinist union’s strategy for a competitive response? Drive costs higher. Go figure.

This shortsighted folly can only have bad outcomes for the workers, their families and Seattle, who all depend on Boeing as a strong corporate citizen.

The Machinists need to get a grip on reality and recalibrate their greed factor.

— Gordon Bell, Seattle

Going the way of the Big Three

Boeing’s offer was a generous one. Machinist union members erred by rejecting it.

The company is prudently working to ensure its financial future for the benefit of customers, shareholders, current and future employees, and retirees. It does not want to end up in the weak financial condition that the Big Three automakers currently find themselves, and much of that condition was caused by their own unions.

No one except the Big Three’s competitors benefit from GM, Ford and Chrysler’s current state.

Boeing knows that and does not want to repeat that scenario in the commercial-airplane sector. I encourage the Machinists to quickly end their strike.

Every day they continue to strike, they risk forcing Boeing to build the factory for its next new airplane in a right-to-work state, and eliminating thousands of new jobs for future Washington state workers.

— Robert Kircher Jr., Boeing employee, Seattle

A note to the strikers

Teachers and Machinists have it pretty good

I am an accountant for a nonprofit. I make a little less than $42,000 per year. I get a 2 percent increase every January if the budget allows. I also get a 2.8 percent increase on my anniversary date. I will not have medical insurance through my employer when I retire. I work approximately 48 hours per week, nine months of the year, and close to 55 hours per week the other three months.

Yes, teachers, that equals 12 months, not 10. I get no extra compensation for these extra hours.

I knew all of this when I took this position. I didn’t go to management later and demand more money or shorter hours. I also know the salaries of our upper management. Yes, they make considerably more than the rest of us, but because of them our agency is up and running and doing wonderful things.

Boeing workers: You make more than me and you have better benefits, so I would be happy to learn how to become a machinist. Teachers: You are only hurting the children that you should be teaching.

Stop your whining. You have it way better than most.

— Terri Wilson, Olympia

Skagit Valley tragedy

State laws too lax with mental illness

What a tragedy! More people killed by an out-of-control person who does not think he is mentally ill [“6 dead in shooting spree,” page one, Sept. 3].

A Times article on Sept. 4 contained these comments about murder suspect Isaac Zamora: “showed increasing signs of mental illness from suicide attempts to auditory hallucinations, from smashed windshields to outright threats” … “sleeping in the woods” … “diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia” [“Neighborhood lived under shadow of troubled man,” page one].

The residents of the community who were living under Zamora’s “shadow,” as well as the state Department of Corrections, the police, courts and local psychiatric hospitals were all aware of his actions.

Sadly, there wasn’t much anyone could do, since the laws of our state were written to protect the rights of the mentally ill so they cannot be hospitalized against their will. Well, one symptom of a mental illness is that you don’t know you are mentally ill!

The current situation is clearly not working and must be changed. Compared with the general public, the number of people injured or killed by the mentally ill is hugely disproportional.

We need to demand that our lawmakers take action to protect us by passing laws that make it easier to involuntarily hospitalize those with mental illness.

It will reduce the number of such terrible incidents.

— Doug Hjellen, Mill Creek