RENTON — The Machinists Union will strongly support all efforts to implement the statewide policy recommendations coming out of Project Pegasus – particularly the education and worker training proposals, said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle.
“Aerospace is one of the few industries globally that is growing, and Washington state is home to that industry’s largest cluster,” he said. “Investing in aerospace workforce training now will insure that we can take advantage of that growth today, and can maintain it in the future.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday released the findings of a study by consultants from Accenture on Washington’s aerospace industry, which was done as part of Project Pegasus. The results of the Accenture study reinforce two basic ideas that Machinists Union members have long believed, leaders of the union said:
- The consultants’ in-depth cost and risk analysis showed that Boeing’s best option for success with the 737Max is to build it in Renton, in large part due to the skills and experience of Machinists Union members and the rest of the company’s already-trained workforce.
- However, the consultants also strongly urged Washington state to improve its education system and workforce training programs to train a new generation of world-leading aerospace workers.
“We’ve argued from the start that Renton is by far Boeing’s best option for the 737Max,” said Wroblewski.
Machinists Union members in Renton recently started work on Boeing’s 7,000th 737, Wroblewski noted. The skills and experience they have gained building those planes have allowed Boeing to ramp up production of current-model 737s to a rate of 35 a month.
“Our members who work on 737s are the most reliable performers across the whole Boeing enterprise,” he said.
To keep that skilled workforce intact, Washington state must step up efforts to educate and train its young people to fill aerospace jobs, the consultants from Accenture recommended.
District 751 has been a leader in that effort, working with Boeing and state officials on a number of education and training programs, including:
- A $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to improve training at Washington’s community and technical colleges;
- Ongoing support for the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, which is helping Boeing suppliers across Washington recruit, hire and train new workers for high-skill jobs in the industry;
- Working with Boeing on a new manufacturing skills curriculum at Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center, which is intended as a pilot project for a high school-level aerospace manufacturing training program statewide.
The union is also lobbying for changes that would improve student performance in science and math, Wroblewski said.
“It’s not enough for Machinists Union members to know how to use tools and computers,” he said. “They also need to understand geometry, trigonometry and beginning calculus. They’ve got to know the principles of physics, metallurgy and electricity – not to mention the new composite technologies.”
Providing Washington’s young people with a quality education and aerospace worker training will ensure both that Boeing can be successful with its latest-model 737 today – and that the industry in Washington can grow and prosper well into the future, Wroblewski said.
“Our members make Renton the high-quality, low-risk solution for the 737Max,” he said. “I’ve made that point in meetings with Boeing leadership and I promise you I will continue to do all I can to ensure the 737Max stays in Washington state.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 30,500 working men and women at 45 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members used collective bargaining to reach contracts with 22 of those employers, without a single work day lost to strikes.
Follow our latest tweets at http://twitter.com/IAM751