Socialist Worker

Victory in the air at Boeing

Issue No. 1690

Victory in the air at Boeing

BOEING WORKERS in the US have won a brilliant victory after nearly six weeks on all-out strike. Nearly 20,000 white collar engineers and technicians at the giant airplane company marched back to work last week. "We're walking back changed people. We're walking back to a changed company," said a union member at a victory rally in Seattle.

"This strike cost me $7,500 and I think it's been worth every penny," said another. Boeing has dropped its demand that workers pay part of their health insurance premiums. Health coverage is now to be extended to workers' partners. Workers have won bigger bonus payments-up to $2,500. And they have also won a guaranteed pay rise of at least 3 percent for the next three years.

The strike was militant, determined and effective. Boeing missed at least 15 deliveries. The workers' union was a professional association for years. It has only just joined the equivalent of the TUC in the US and it had no strike fund when the action began. Union membership rocketed in the run-up to the strike. Thousands of workers who were not even in the union were part of the strike and on the picket lines. The Boeing workers got massive support. Solidarity donations flooded in from other unions, and rail workers refused to transport Boeing parts. The mood was so angry that many workers rejected the deal because they thought they could win much more "It doesn't meet everything we want, but it's a start," said one.

16 April-new protests

A WEEK of protest is planned in Washington, DC, to coincide with the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 9 to 16 April. Organisers are expecting a vast turnout. Transport has been organised nationwide and the list of sponsors has a very strong international flavour. Direct action groups aim to disrupt the bankers' picnic. Activities range from two mass demonstrations to performing arts satires on the fat cats' activities. The A-16 Roadshow was starting a tour in mid-March from Gainesville, Florida, travelling up the East Coast to Montreal and back to DC.

Its organiser said, "Our goal is to creatively educate communities about the role of the World Bank and the IMF in the global corporate takeover, and offer skills in activism to mobilise thousands to make the trip to DC to create a festival of resistance on 16 April." April in Washington is only one of a mushrooming series of events spinning off from last November's Seattle demonstration against global capitalism.

Local campaigns in New Jersey, Austin in Texas, and New Orleans are harassing meetings of financial institutions. West Coast activists in San Francisco and Seattle are promising to make May Day 2000 "a day to remember". The AFL-CIO, equivalent to the TUC in Britain, has called a national labour rally in Washington on 12 April. Its leaders are not endorsing the militant one on 16 April, but the American Federation of Government Employees is, and many union branches are sending delegations.

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Sat 1 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1690
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