Will the Aircraft Industry follow the Auto Industry

Those who don’t look at history and take from it the lessons offered are sure to suffer the consequences.   I am very disturbed that another bedrock American industry is on the verge of ruination.   The news reports about the current negotiations between Boeing and its unions I find very disturbing.  I am afraid it might well be going down the same road as our auto industry.   The unions are demanding a $34,000.00 dollar increase over a 3 year period.  My heavens there are lots of people who would love to be making $34K a year, let alone getting that kind of raise over three years.  Lord only knows what those workers are already making. You can rest assured the average wage is already well north of  $50,000. for each worker.  These are not NASA scientists but assembly line workers.

Let me be clear, I love our American labor force.  I want our workers to get good wages and be able to raise a family and have some comforts in life and a retirement they can look forward to.  I am not opposed to the concept of unions.  I am opposed to stupidity and corruption at any level and abhor coercion, a la, Jimmie Hoffa and his ilk.   I have no problem at all with people organizing and wanting to bargain as a group as long as there is freedom for everyone to choose to be part of it or not.  Those that want to band together have my support.   What really depresses me though is that the unions may well be on the way to killing the golden goose out of greed.  I don’t like greed no matter who the offender is.   The aircraft industry is one of the pillars of our American industrial base.  I am proud of it.  We have been the world leader in aircraft engineering and manufacturing for almost 100 years.  We do it very well and build great airplanes.   Whether we like it or not this is a competitive world and there are competitors around the world now.  Airbus, the Braziians, the Canadians and surely others soon will be competing with us even more.   If they build their aircraft cheaper than we do they will get the business, not us.  I want American workers to have jobs not just today but for decades to come.

The American auto industry was the envy of the world only a generation ago.  It had over 90% of all sales in the US.  Look where it is today.  There is blame on both management and labor for this situation but labor bears a great deal of responsiblity for its greed.  Remember the unions always want more.   That was the motto of Samuel Gompers the first great union leader a 100 years ago.   When asked what it was the unions wanted, his answer was one word–“more”.   The auto workers did great but they priced themselves out of the market.  German and Japanese cars were cheaper and the quality was just as good as ours, so guess what?  Now the Big Three barely can muster over 30% of the car market.  Hundreds of thousands of auto workers have lost their jobs.  You know most of them would give anything to have their old jobs back at 70% of their former wages, which were very good.   The American auto industry is a shell of its former self and there is a real doubt if it will ever revive.   They have even resorted to going to Washington to seek a Federal loan or bailout of 40 to 50 billion!   That is absurd and I do hope the politicians will say no.  They love those union voters so they might just grant them the loan.  But that is only a finger in the dike.  Unless and until the unions will truly join in cost cutting they are only delaying the inevitable and doing a drastic disservice to their own members.  I believe a  $60,000.00 a year job beats the hell out of unemployment benefits any day.  Yes, I know Boeing is making good money right now.  An increase in wages is just fine.   But My God don’t ruin an industry and your own welfare at the same time.   Look at the auto, shoe, textile and light manufacturing businesses that have closed up shop in the last 50 years because we were under cut on pricing due to our high wages.  Only 40 years ago almost every TV bought in the US was actually engineered and assembled right here in the good old USA.  Can you buy an American built TV today?  How many of those manufacturing jobs have been lost?   You make your own estimate.  Motorola, GE, Philco, and Zenith are a few that come to mind.   Blenders, ricers, radios, musical instruments and phones  were all made right here, but no more.  High wages priced us out of the market.

It doesn’t have to happen.  I hope the unions will take a hard look at their demands.  I am not  a stockholder in Boeing and have no connection to the company but I love our country and our people and want a good industrial base for the next generations.  I fear it may already be too late to pass on an auto industry to the next one.   What happened to the auto industry can happen again to Boeing and our aircraft industry.  Insanity you know is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

I do hope the Boeing unions will not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

Football has started and the hunting season is here in many places across the nation.  Dove season is here and teal ducks in many areas.  The first hint of fall has arrived for most of you.  Nothing cold, but that small crispness to the morning air.  The changing of the seasons I have always found to be so comforting because it is dependable.  No matter the turmoil in the world that cycle is there to remind us of greater things beyond the control of man.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, history

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