Politics, Organized Labor, Boeing

Politics

Brent McMillan had hoped to help oversee development of Seattles new monorail. Instead, the well-regarded but losing 2003 candidate for the Seattle Popular Monorail Authority board will be taking the D.C. Metro rail system to work. He was just named political director for the Green Party. The job includes helping coordinate campaigns and devising national strategiesamong them, ways to target congressional seats, in particular those [held by incumbents] who voted for the war in Iraq and also for the Patriot Act, says McMillan. His office is just off a Metro stopnot the Green Line, unfortunately, but the Red Line. RICK ANDERSON

Organized Labor

In spite of the national trend, the loss of thousands of union jobs at Boeing, and high unemployment generally, the number of Washington workers who belong to unions continues to grow. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor released its annual statistics on union membership: While union membership dropped nationwide to 12.9 percent, the lowest in 20 years, Washingtons ranks rose by 30,000, to 502,000, or 19.7 percentthe fifth-highest in the nation. I wasnt surprised, says University of Washington political science professor Margaret Levi. She says the reason we are bucking the national trend is simple: organizing. Levi says that the states unions put money and effort into organizing new members, especially lower-paid janitors, hotel workers, and home health care providers. In many other states, the union hierarchy resists putting resources into organizing, preferring to provide service to existing members, mostly in manufacturing jobs. Washington has always been a progressive state. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Boeing

The Seattle Times is trying to tell us something about Boeing, the 7E7, and the governor, but what is it? Last week, the paper ran what appeared to be a front-page expos頯n the secret perks Boeing got from Gov. Gary Locke and state taxpayers to build the new jet in Everett, in addition to $3.2 billion in tax breaks. But as Locke explained the next day, the perks had already been detailed in last months press releases and in subsequent news reports (see Boeing Wins, Dec. 24, 2003). This week, however, the Times seemed to have a real scoop. In its front-page report Sunday, Jan. 25, the paper said that an internal planning document that explores sale of Boeings big Wichita, Kan., plant presents a long-range vision that maintains Boeings strong role in the Puget Sound area, while shrinking its presence throughout the rest of the country. In other words, there would be sustained jet production at Everett for decades to come. Buried in the news report was the fact that land surveys were made in Novemberimplying that the sale plan has been in the works for months. That means Boeing might have been favoring Everett long before the Dec. 16 cliff-hanging announcement that Everett had won the 7E7 beauty contest in which other states, too, were competing to land the assembly plant and hundreds of jobs. Boeing, Locke, and others had been saying that the billions in corporate welfare were crucial to keeping Boeing in metro Puget Sound. But if the Times info is accurate, Boeing was planning all along for a future in which Everett was the national focal point of all commercial-airplane work. RICK ANDERSON

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