Seattle’s newest councilmember urges Boeing workers to seize factories
posted at 10:41 am on November 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Here’s the inevitable follow-up on the election of a Socialist to the Seattle City Council — although perhaps sooner than anyone would have thought. Boeing has tried working for years with its unions in the state of Washington, but still cannot reach agreements on labor contracts for its manufacturing facilities. The aerospace giant has looked for other regions in the US to build its planes, which has angered the unions and the Obama administration. It’s also provided an opportunity for Seattle’s newest councilmember to launch her anti-capitalist agenda, and she’s wasted no time in doing so … even before officially taking office:
Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state
“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night. …
On Monday night, she spoke to supporters of Boeing Machinists, six days after they rejected a contract guaranteeing jobs in Everett building the new 777X airliner for eight years, in exchange for new workers giving up their guaranteed company pensions.
Now Boeing is threatening to take those jobs to other states. “That will be nothing short of economic terrorism because it’s going to devastate the state’s economy,” she said.
So what wouldn’t be “economic terrorism”? Seizing the company’s property, of course:
Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”
“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.
Well, Seattle voters elected her, so they get what they deserve, but perhaps we should point out a couple of inconvenient realities for Sawant. The machinists don’t own the plants, but that’s only just the beginning. Unless the machinists own the designs, they can’t build the planes unless licensed by those who do. And where will they get the raw materials with which to build the planes? Who pays for the energy necessary to operate the machines?
That’s not to say that the machinists can’t build their own planes, of course. They could open up their own business, design their own planes, and build planes themselves, but they’ll need to find an awful lot of capital with which to do it. That means they’d still have to deal with executive management imposed by the VC sources and labor cost controls, which would certainly include getting rid of any notion of defined-benefit pension systems. Then they’d need to compete on price in order to sell the planes, and find people willing to buy them at all when Boeing is still producing proven models in South Carolina.
That is “democratic ownership.” What Sawant demands is outright theft, and we’ve seen the results of it from China to Russia to Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Besides, Sawant doesn’t want machinists to build planes anyway:
“We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.
War machines? Boeing wants to build another series of commercial airliners. When KIRO informed Sawant of that, she replied that she was was “referring to drones when speaking of war machines.”
Hey, Seattle … you elected her. Have fun. The rest of certainly will … at your expense.