FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Soon to Become a Corporate North Korea?

by DAVID MACARAY

We give ourselves too much credit for being a free-thinking and rebellious people. When we see North Korean citizens lining the streets of Pyongyang, ecstatically gushing over Kim Jong-Un, we snicker. When we’re told that they refer to this pompous dictator as “Brilliant Comrade” and “Dear Leader,” we cringe at how pitifully brainwashed they are.

But how would the citizens of Washington state respond if the Boeing Corporation were to issue this ultimatum? Either (1) you start referring to Boeing CEO Raymond Conner as “Our Glorious and Exalted Leader,” and agree to march in parades carrying placards proclaiming “God Bless Boeing,” or (2) you watch in disbelief and horror as the Boeing Corporation pulls up stakes and relocates to another state.

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in Washington lately, that ultimatum doesn’t seem particularly farfetched. A brief summary:

Some months ago, the Boeing Corporation dropped a bombshell by declaring that unless it got substantial tax breaks (and by “substantial” it clearly meant “unprecedented”), it would be forced to begin looking for another site on which to build its much anticipated 777X airliner.

To say Boeing is big is an understatement. Its influence is enormous. While the Boeing Corporation may not be as critical to Washington’s economy as, say, the textile industry is to Bangladesh, it is vitally important. Consider: In 2012, Boeing was responsible for $70 billion of the state’s $76 billion aerospace industry revenue.

When Boeing quietly announced, in 2001, that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, the announcement was deemed so potentially catastrophic, local news stations interrupted regularly scheduled programs to report it. Thus, one can understand how the thought of Boeing taking its 777X operation elsewhere might give the state of Washington a collective nervous breakdown.

Accordingly, in early November, at the urging of state Governor Jay Inslee (generally regarded as a “liberal Democrat”), the Washington state assembly, in a special session of the legislature, voted to give Boeing a huge tax break. The “Los Angles Times” (December 9), reported the package to be worth $8.7 billion, making it the largest corporate tax subsidy in U.S. history

By applying economic muscle in a way it had never quite been applied before, Boeing got what it wanted from the people. When Boeing ordered them to jump, the great state of Washington replied, “How high?” But then, alas, this beautifully conceived and well-orchestrated deal hit a snag. The union membership voted down the contract.

On November 13, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 voted overwhelmingly (by a margin of 2 to 1) to reject Boeing’s LBF (last, best and final offer), an offer that not only slashed employee pension and health care benefits, but included a provision that forbid the union to go on strike.

Considering that, going all the way back to the 1935 Wagner Act, the strike has been a union’s only real means of fighting back, Boeing’s offer was tantamount to declaring that not only would they be reaming out the union’s pension and health packages, they would be revoking the union’s fundamental right to rebel. Holy picket line, Batman!

Of course, the union saw Boeing’s move for what it was: an unvarnished power-play by the Glorious and Exalted Leader. The city fathers, governor, and state assembly saw it as well, but they were too scared to resist. So it was left to the workers themselves to take a stand. They weren’t asking for the moon, only for a fair shake. Boeing’s stock is at an all-time high. Year-to-date, it’s risen 58-percent, to $134.25 per share.

Doubtless, there will be more negotiations and, very likely, enough movement on both sides to reach a deal. Unfortunately, even with the courage shown by the union, the deck is so heavily stacked against working people, these things almost always end in favor of management. Given the power American corporations have, anyone who believes he couldn’t be turned into a North Korean is lying to himself.

David Macaray is a Los Angeles playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”).  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail