Author Topic: LA Times: Aircraft worker had retirement lined up -- and then the boom came down  (Read 9816 times)


AH013

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Reminds me of when GM went bankrupt.  All these similar "riding my HS diploma for my whole life in a union" guys were shocked when suddenly the best jobs they could get were $12 an hour instead of $75, when the answer to "what have you been doing for the last 30 years of your career?" was "the exact same shit I did 25 years ago...I just keep doing it and expecting a 10% raise every year".

Labor shock, everyone else get degrees or learned new skills :O

SaintM

  • Guest
60 and a baby on the way.  I'm shaking my head more at this than the job loss.

MgoSam

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3649
  • Location: Minnesota
"A good percentage of the Boeing employees were old enough and in good enough shape financially to scoot off into retirement, but not all of them."

That was largely the only point it made about how this likely could have been avoided. The article does state that he had a costly divorce, so that of course could have played a large reason for why he is now unable to retire. It truly must suck for someone that toiled for his entire adult life, working many overtime hours, but still doesn't have much to show for it. That $15/hour job he turned down due to distance though is kinda a killer, as it is some work. The longer he goes without a job, the harder it will get for him, and I wonder if his pension and SS will be enough to take care of him. That said, this does drive home the concept of saving early. I'm 27 and saving as much as I can because I can't predict the future. There may be some terrible things that come up in my life that could derail my plans, but the best thing I can do is to have as much of a cushion as I can so that I am better able to withstand any obstacles.

Capsu78

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 733
  • Location: Chicagoland
How many more industries can California drive off?  My 14 years in the Golden State were some of the best of my life but the place feels like a foreign country to me now when I visit.  Wife and kids all born there and none of them want to go back except to vacation.

Forcus

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 714
  • Location: Central Illinois
I feel kind of a mix between disbelief and empathy.

Disbelief - where did 34 years of very high wages go? The divorce was mentioned, along with a bad investment in real estate but still? And I used to work in a supplier to the defense industry and was very much aware of what was going on with contracts for the type of equipment we built. I got out when it was clear that it was likely going to be a downward trend for our segment. As usual the union head is out of touch - airframes can be built anywhere now with tight control and at such low labor rates that even with all the cost in setting up a new factory, training, transportation, moving management, it is a net positive for the company.

Empathy - I totally get doing something you love and your job becomes obsolete or outsourced. No job anywhere is safe. His body is wore out on account of the type of work he has done so I can't imagine he has much physical labor life left in him (I wanted to be a diesel mechanic originally and that was one big reason I didn't follow through). A line item on a gov't budget can affect a lot of lives.

vivophoenix

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
I feel kind of a mix between disbelief and empathy.

Disbelief - where did 34 years of very high wages go? The divorce was mentioned, along with a bad investment in real estate but still? And I used to work in a supplier to the defense industry and was very much aware of what was going on with contracts for the type of equipment we built. I got out when it was clear that it was likely going to be a downward trend for our segment. As usual the union head is out of touch - airframes can be built anywhere now with tight control and at such low labor rates that even with all the cost in setting up a new factory, training, transportation, moving management, it is a net positive for the company.

Empathy - I totally get doing something you love and your job becomes obsolete or outsourced. No job anywhere is safe. His body is wore out on account of the type of work he has done so I can't imagine he has much physical labor life left in him (I wanted to be a diesel mechanic originally and that was one big reason I didn't follow through). A line item on a gov't budget can affect a lot of lives.

id have to agree.

also if i was planning to stay at a company for my life time, as he was and the previous generation can. its difficult to think i should be saving for retirement. it sounds like he has his pension lined up. maybe if he scaled back his housing situation he would be fine.

he is probably also holding out for more than $15 cause unemployment is more than likely more than that.

and i dont think its fair to blame him for not seeking more than a hs diploma.

are you telling me ever person you know is always training for more skills and gaining more degrees?

 the majority of the American population has a hs diploma. so looking down on him for being average is rather elistist.

it seemed to me,  he had some savings is running through it and then will have to go into his 401k.

so the issue if income more than savings it seems.


Capsu78

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 733
  • Location: Chicagoland
Vivo,
Capitalization and punctuation are provided free here at MMM.  Feel free to use all the commas and exclamation you want!  :-)

vivophoenix

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
Vivo,
Capitalization and punctuation are provided free here at MMM.  Feel free to use all the commas and exclamation you want!  :-)

i am pleased to note that snark is also available for a hefty discount.

I'll be sure to stock up before you buy it all up.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
I feel kind of a mix between disbelief and empathy.

Disbelief - where did 34 years of very high wages go? The divorce was mentioned, along with a bad investment in real estate but still? And I used to work in a supplier to the defense industry and was very much aware of what was going on with contracts for the type of equipment we built. I got out when it was clear that it was likely going to be a downward trend for our segment. As usual the union head is out of touch - airframes can be built anywhere now with tight control and at such low labor rates that even with all the cost in setting up a new factory, training, transportation, moving management, it is a net positive for the company.

Empathy - I totally get doing something you love and your job becomes obsolete or outsourced. No job anywhere is safe. His body is wore out on account of the type of work he has done so I can't imagine he has much physical labor life left in him (I wanted to be a diesel mechanic originally and that was one big reason I didn't follow through). A line item on a gov't budget can affect a lot of lives.

I agree.
 
I have a brother-in-law who went through the same thing working sheetmetal in a union. The work dried up and nobody else pays similar wages for similar work. Can't blame him for riding the gravy train while it lasted, but eventually it was going to end and we saw it before he did. But how do you tell someone "you aren't worth what you make, better get ready for changes"...

(And to be fair, I tell myself reguarily that I'm "not worth what I make", which is a good reason to save and spend less)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 08:17:37 AM by James »

Louisville

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 517
Vivo,
Capitalization and punctuation are provided free here at MMM.  Feel free to use all the commas and exclamation you want!  :-)
+1
A lot of us here are over 40 and not fluent in text speak. Standard english punctuation, capitalization, grammer, etc. will go a long way toward making your point and having your point taken seriously.

MandalayVA

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1571
  • Location: Orlando FL
Vivo,
Capitalization and punctuation are provided free here at MMM.  Feel free to use all the commas and exclamation you want!  :-)
+1
A lot of us here are over 40 and not fluent in text speak. Standard english English punctuation, capitalization, grammer grammar, etc. will go a long way toward making your point and having your point taken seriously.

You set yourself up for that, dude.  :D

Back to the original topic, I wonder how many people at that plant DID retire when the layoffs were announced? 

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
At 60, this guy should have been in better shape financially, and he still has some money coming in from a pension and he should get ~2000 a month in SS.   He'll be fine.

That said, I'm going to assume that most of the people on this thread have never worked in labor, or been a union member.   I've done both.    Some of these comments are pretty heartless.   

I was an airline pilot making about $19,000 a year at a non-union carrier.   There were lots of examples of pilot pushing and people being back door fired for bringing up safety issues (generally a company pilot would bust them on a bs thing in the sim on their yearly proficiency check).     It finally all came home when 2 pilots that had already flown a 12 hour (FAA limit on a duty day) day were told that they now had to ferry an aircraft out of maintenance.     Unbeknownst to them, the mechanics had installed the pitch trim upside down.    As they took off and tried to relieve control pressure, they forced their aircraft into an unrecoverable nose down attitude that resulted in a crash into the ocean and their death.      Later, right after we finally became a member of a union, we had a crash in Buffalo that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people.    This was caused by pilot error exaggerated by the fact that people who make $19,000 a year can't really afford to live in their base in the NYC metro area.    Thus they'd been up for something like 19 hours after commuting and flying through bad weather. 

Watch the frontline investigation on this if you want to hear the whole story.

Some union members are overpaid for the work they do.     This is as much the fault of the company signing the contracts as any sort of union strong arm techniques though.    Unions allowed this country to have a middle class, we shouldn't forget this.   There's no reason that hard working blue collar workers shouldn't be paid a living wage.   I do think $140,000 is probably excessive (though it's probably the fault of human resources staffing errors), but $50-$70k should be within the realm of possibility.    Something that always struck home for me was the CEO pay that this guy mentioned.    We would have CEOs that did nothing for the company and only stayed for a few years, perhaps they made the stock go up a dollar because they laid a bunch of people off.    They rarely created a company that could weather future storms or had any idea where it would be in the next 3-4 years.    They invariably left with a nice 7 figure golden parachute while workers pay was stagnated or reduced.

Labor is important, and when we made shit like planes and tanks that won WWII we knew that.    We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.


Louisville

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 517
Vivo,
Capitalization and punctuation are provided free here at MMM.  Feel free to use all the commas and exclamation you want!  :-)
+1
A lot of us here are over 40 and not fluent in text speak. Standard english English punctuation, capitalization, grammer grammar, etc. will go a long way toward making your point and having your point taken seriously.
Ha! I was thinking about that as I was typing it....

You set yourself up for that, dude.  :D

Back to the original topic, I wonder how many people at that plant DID retire when the layoffs were announced?

scottish

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1827
  • Location: Ottawa
I'm not sure what you mean by this:

Quote
We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.

I compare the quality on my 2004 Toyota to the 1979 Chevrolet I used to own and its the other way around.    Also Toyota has never been unionized, afaik.

My opinion is that North America has always been great at innovating and coming up with new ideas and products.    Not so much at improving them.

Hayden Frys Mustache

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Iowa
With high wages, Cadillac health insurance and usually a defined benefit pension, I have often wondered why union membership is declining. Why wouldn't a blue collar or middle/lower wage employee want to belong to a union? I understand companies lose some amount of control over the workforce, but what's driving people out of unions on the employee side, especially construction/manufacturing/$15 an hour jobs this guy was offered?

okonumiyaki

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
I'm not sure what you mean by this:

Quote
We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.

I compare the quality on my 2004 Toyota to the 1979 Chevrolet I used to own and its the other way around.    Also Toyota has never been unionized, afaik.

My opinion is that North America has always been great at innovating and coming up with new ideas and products.    Not so much at improving them.

Toyota is unionised in Japan

sheepstache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2419
I'm confused how the article can talk about how he had retirement all locked down but then: tragedy, but then doesn't go into what his retirement situation is like.

I'm assuming his pension fund is still solvent and that it will be generous if it's based on the compensation he was pulling down. Plus, it does mention he has funds in a 401k (albeit in the context that he might have to dip into them), which a lot of people with pensions don't bother with. Plus he'll be eligible for social security.

So it would seem his retirement should be fine, he just needs to figure out a way to get through the next 5 years. And let's be honest, even very prudent people don't necessarily have 5 year's worth of income set aside in an emergency fund.

Heck, if he'd known this was coming, he could have planned to be able to access his money early and we'd potentially be looking at an ER candidate!

It does mention large expenses, like improvements to his property and a baby. If his retirement income is generous like I'm estimating it is, this might just mean delaying the improvements. Presumably his wife can still work. If the 401k money plus her salary tides them over enough that he doesn't have to work, he can save  money by doing some of the work himself. Plus he can be a stay at home parent, saving them a lot of money on childcare.

frugalecon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 593
Based on the article, it sounds like he already has a new job. Stay at home dad to the nine month old. Presumably the wife has fresher skills. Time for her to go to work.

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
I'm not sure what you mean by this:

Quote
We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.

I compare the quality on my 2004 Toyota to the 1979 Chevrolet I used to own and its the other way around.    Also Toyota has never been unionized, afaik.

My opinion is that North America has always been great at innovating and coming up with new ideas and products.    Not so much at improving them.

I agree, and I drive a Toyota also (I don't lump Japan in with other Asian manufacturers, they've been making world class products since at least the late 60s).   Cars in the 70s sucked, but compare a 55 Chevy to anything made in Europe or Asia at the time and they won't hold a candle to the American product.    You can partially blame UAW for this, but you can also blame boneheaded executives.   We had (still do) the best steel and other sundry products.    I bought a clothesline off of Amazon the other day that had the highest reviews on the site.    It couldn't hold a candle to my 50s vintage clothesline that I use on a daily basis.   Same with my Swingline can opener.  It's literally made 10x better than any other can opener I've ever used.   All steel construction with fantastic joints, made in the USA.

The make vs improving argument is interesting.    I don't think I agree though.   Boeing still makes the best planes in the world.   Airbus doesn't have nearly the fit and finish, you'll notice things like the doors popping slightly on takeoff on an aircraft that's only a few years old.   Then after a certain number of cycles the entire aircraft is scrapped, where a Boeing goes in for a major overhaul and keeps flying for another lifetime.    We used to say that the last A320s crew will fly the plane to the boneyard, and be picked up by a 737-200.

American made Gibson or Fender guitars  are considerably better made than their foreign equivalents.   I could go on.

I'd suggest that the problem lies not with unions, but with overcompensated executives that care more about their stock prices than employee's happiness.    My dad's flown for Southwest for 30 years.    There's a reason they're so successful.   Herb's fav moto was "Employees first, passengers second, shareholders last."

okonumiyaki

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
I actually maintain both Boeing & Airbus, on the component side.  We've got 20+ year old Airbus & Boeings.

There's a difference in design philosophy.  Airbus A330 design prioritised weight saving, it is 13 tonnes lighter than the equivalent Boeing, and does the same job.  But you pay for this with higher maintenance costs as the extra weight of the Boeing gives it more robustness

MD airrcaft were built tougher than either Boeings or Airbus, the original saying was that the crew would be picked up by a DC9.  And Russian aircraft are essentially flying steel bars.  No one makes planes like that anymore, because the fuel costs of lugging all that extra weight around is uneconomic

But I wouldn't say the Airbus is made worse than the Boeing, but it is (by design) lighter and more fragile.  Like comparing a prius with a pick up truck.

For engines it is the other way round - Rolls Royce are more robust and reliable than GE or P&W, but at the cost of more weight.  The most overengineered combination is the RR -524 on a Boeing B757.  They are the cockroaches of the airline world, will be around for a long long time, when the last of the GE/ PW powered A300's are but a nostalgic memory

For both aircraft, most of the parts are made by US manufacturers.  By far the worst is Honeywell, by far the best Moog. 



Forcus

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 714
  • Location: Central Illinois
I was an airline pilot making about $19,000 a year at a non-union carrier.

This is a whole 'nother issue. I only know a fraction of what has happened in the airlines over the years but my simple take away is constant turmoil. I still find it hard to believe that someone has to spend ~60k to make $19k a year, and with the living arrangements (constant movement, deadheading, apartments, sleeping in break rooms, etc.). I think even the lowest paid bus drivers around here make more and their job isn't 1/10th as difficult. I think this is one industry that needs strong (but smart) unions. For the foreseeable future there is no replacement for this type of labor so they might as well be well represented. I have thought about being an airline pilot after I retire (if you read Flying magazine, this is sort of what that surgeon has done in retirement), but only for love, obviously not money.


EricL

  • Guest
This doesn't seem so much shame and comedy to me.  The guy had a good job, suffered a bad divorce but still had enough dough to buy land. Unlike a lot of people he's got a 401k he's reluctant to dip into - and not for Supebowl tickets either. 

As for unions, arguments against them resemble a straw man argument about how "bread and circuses" entitlement brought down the Roman empire.  Except that it was Rome's large land owners that gobbled up the small farms from independent Roman farmers while their men fought the last Punic war. The landowners worked the acquisitions with POW slaves. The families moved to the cities and with no urban skills provided the restive underclass that needed "bread and circuses" and bounced between threatening revolt and supporting every meathead who offered more.

Modern American unions have their flaws to be sure. But they were built in an era when companies cheerfully employed child labor, no safety precautions, unlivable wages, and thugs to beat and kill anyone who objected. The last is important because in casting around for someone to help workers were rebuffed by police, bureaucrats and most politicians. That left organized crime. That deal with the devil, a "dog eat dog" attitude by union leadership toward their companies and regulatory ridgidty stains union' reputation.  You'd think in modern America where Gilded Age corporate excess is a distant memory the "dog eat dog" thing would be history too. But when a company can pay a CEO over $10k A DAY to ship jobs to China (and not much else) while booting ordinary employees maybe not so much.  Amazingly there's also people who claim CEOs are entitled to $39 million a year paychecks and at the same time claim veteran workers are not entitled to $75k a year. 

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
I was an airline pilot making about $19,000 a year at a non-union carrier.

This is a whole 'nother issue. I only know a fraction of what has happened in the airlines over the years but my simple take away is constant turmoil. I still find it hard to believe that someone has to spend ~60k to make $19k a year, and with the living arrangements (constant movement, deadheading, apartments, sleeping in break rooms, etc.). I think even the lowest paid bus drivers around here make more and their job isn't 1/10th as difficult. I think this is one industry that needs strong (but smart) unions. For the foreseeable future there is no replacement for this type of labor so they might as well be well represented. I have thought about being an airline pilot after I retire (if you read Flying magazine, this is sort of what that surgeon has done in retirement), but only for love, obviously not money.

Agreed, though the problem is more nebulous than that.    You have to accept extreme poverty wages at the beginning, but there's still the carrot of very, very high pay and a fantastic schedule for a lucky few.    My dad's a pilot at Southwest and he's made 100k+ since 1986 (he's somewhere over $300k now and will walk away with more than $5million in stock when he retires next year), while entry level pay is really unlivable.      I had my eye on the prize, thus  I chose the shittiest carrier I could so I could get a quick upgrade.   I ended up upgrading at a little over a year and ATP mins (can't do that anymore).   I eventually decided that living on the road wasn't for me when my son was born, so I quit to be a sahd.    Haven't regretted it since I quit 6 years ago.

The real problem isn't that the pay is unlivable for the individuals, they made the choice to join the career.    The problem is that you and your loved ones fly on aircraft where the crew isn't able to make enough money to safely perform their duties.    I used to have to drive 80 miles each way on top of a 8-10 hour duty day.    That meant that best case scenario, I was able to get 6 hours of sleep a night.    That's running inside the house and laying in bed, then getting up and cramming a breakfast burrito in the car.    I simply didn't make enough money to afford a room in Westchester NY, my base at the time.   The crew that crashed on the Buffalo plane was commuting to Newark from Seattle and Texas.     That's hours of being awake and trying to get to work before you even start your workday.   

Airline unions are far from perfect, they always protect big carriers at the expense of their regional partners.   But they're something.    The reason that we have new regulations about crew rest and the ATP requirements to be in an airline cockpit is because of Unions.    They're also the reason that things like weather radar or 2 person crews were required to be available on board aircraft.   Airlines didn't want to pay for the technology or extra staffing, unions got that.

greaper007

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
I actually maintain both Boeing & Airbus, on the component side.  We've got 20+ year old Airbus & Boeings.

There's a difference in design philosophy.  Airbus A330 design prioritised weight saving, it is 13 tonnes lighter than the equivalent Boeing, and does the same job.  But you pay for this with higher maintenance costs as the extra weight of the Boeing gives it more robustness

MD airrcaft were built tougher than either Boeings or Airbus, the original saying was that the crew would be picked up by a DC9.  And Russian aircraft are essentially flying steel bars.  No one makes planes like that anymore, because the fuel costs of lugging all that extra weight around is uneconomic

But I wouldn't say the Airbus is made worse than the Boeing, but it is (by design) lighter and more fragile.  Like comparing a prius with a pick up truck.

For engines it is the other way round - Rolls Royce are more robust and reliable than GE or P&W, but at the cost of more weight.  The most overengineered combination is the RR -524 on a Boeing B757.  They are the cockroaches of the airline world, will be around for a long long time, when the last of the GE/ PW powered A300's are but a nostalgic memory

For both aircraft, most of the parts are made by US manufacturers.  By far the worst is Honeywell, by far the best Moog.

Yes, the Diesel 9 was/is a beast.   I used to jumpseat on Northwest occasionally and it was pretty cool to be on a big loud airplane that was probably built during the Nixon administration.

Worse of better, I simply like flying on a plane that's more robust.    I also hate throw away products.    Anecdotally, it seems like every time I had a delay while commuting it was because of an Embraer or Airbus was having a computer malfunction.    It also never seemed right that a plane that was only a few years old had doors that popped on the takeoff roll out.     That and my dad has more hours than god in the 737 so he sort of brainwashed me.

No Name Guy

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 449
  • Location: Western Washington
Fundamentally the clown in the article should have known a few things:

The C-17 production line he worked lived and died at the hands of Congress. 

The USAF was only going to be given enough money to by a certain number of them.  Once they got close to their number, the gravy train is coming to an end, period

C-17 is a lower priority than the pointy nose F-35 (actually, EVERYTHING is lower priority than that piece of shit), ergo the USAF is going to sacrifice anything and everything on the altar of the F-35 (note:  A-10 latest)

The overseas market is tiny compared to the USAF.  India bought a few, NATO a few, Aus a few - combined they're a year, year and a half of production.

Given the above facts that take only a basic awareness of whats going on in the industry you're working in, one should be able to deduce that the end of the line is coming and plan accordingly.  This should not have been a surprise to the person in the article, nor anyone else in Long Beach.

Note to aerospace workers in St. Louis:  The F-15 and F-18 lines are shutting down within a few years - watch the order book, count how many were delivered in 2014, divide current backlog by current production rate and you can pretty much figure out when you're out the door.  Note, you may get pushed out a year or two ahead of the bitter end as things ramp down.  Get your shit together.  There is no changing this fact.  If you don't already have something on the next project lined up, time to get your shit together.

Oh, the trouble with some unions in Aerospace is this:  This guy is a highly experienced guy on the line.  If he came to Seattle to work in the 737 or the wide body (747, 767, 787, 777) plant, the local IAM would say, uh huh....nice you've worked there for 40 years in that other union....that gets you zero seniority here - start bottom scale on the shit shifts.  The guy was trapped in Long Beach, even if he could read the writing on the wall and wanted to transfer north.

Even though the engineers in Seattle are also unionized, if an experienced C-17 engineer (say 25 years) came to Seattle (they're NOT unionized in Long Beach) and got a job at the appropriate level, he or she would slot right in and have...well, we don't have seniority per se, but the transplant would be slotted in appropriate to their relative skill / value / worth, just as if they'd been a Seattle Engineers union person from day 1.  In a layoff, they wouldn't necessarily be the first out the door, unlike our assembly worker who transferred - they're for all practical purposes 100% seniority driven.





partgypsy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4190
Interesting no name guy.

caliq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
Fundamentally the clown in the article should have known a few things:

The C-17 production line he worked lived and died at the hands of Congress. 

The USAF was only going to be given enough money to by a certain number of them.  Once they got close to their number, the gravy train is coming to an end, period

C-17 is a lower priority than the pointy nose F-35 (actually, EVERYTHING is lower priority than that piece of shit), ergo the USAF is going to sacrifice anything and everything on the altar of the F-35 (note:  A-10 latest)

The overseas market is tiny compared to the USAF.  India bought a few, NATO a few, Aus a few - combined they're a year, year and a half of production.

Given the above facts that take only a basic awareness of whats going on in the industry you're working in, one should be able to deduce that the end of the line is coming and plan accordingly.  This should not have been a surprise to the person in the article, nor anyone else in Long Beach.

Note to aerospace workers in St. Louis:  The F-15 and F-18 lines are shutting down within a few years - watch the order book, count how many were delivered in 2014, divide current backlog by current production rate and you can pretty much figure out when you're out the door.  Note, you may get pushed out a year or two ahead of the bitter end as things ramp down.  Get your shit together.  There is no changing this fact.  If you don't already have something on the next project lined up, time to get your shit together.

Oh, the trouble with some unions in Aerospace is this:  This guy is a highly experienced guy on the line.  If he came to Seattle to work in the 737 or the wide body (747, 767, 787, 777) plant, the local IAM would say, uh huh....nice you've worked there for 40 years in that other union....that gets you zero seniority here - start bottom scale on the shit shifts.  The guy was trapped in Long Beach, even if he could read the writing on the wall and wanted to transfer north.

Even though the engineers in Seattle are also unionized, if an experienced C-17 engineer (say 25 years) came to Seattle (they're NOT unionized in Long Beach) and got a job at the appropriate level, he or she would slot right in and have...well, we don't have seniority per se, but the transplant would be slotted in appropriate to their relative skill / value / worth, just as if they'd been a Seattle Engineers union person from day 1.  In a layoff, they wouldn't necessarily be the first out the door, unlike our assembly worker who transferred - they're for all practical purposes 100% seniority driven.

My husband worked as a contractor for a special group that was part of a big aerospace company (like, they weren't working on the line, they made one off/custom-ish/small run test equipment) and the direct-employee members of that group weren't union.  When he left, the company was planning to force the group to move to their main local facility (they had always been located in a separate facility 20+ miles away).  The main facility was 100% union, so contractors weren't an option, but neither was hiring them directly for some reason.  The worst part was, the techs that had been working in that special group for decades (30+ years in some cases), earning pensions and at least 70 or 80k at this point, would have been absorbed into the union's main tech pool, at the bottom of the totem pole.  Even though they had been working for the SAME EXACT COMPANY.  The engineers in the group wouldn't have been allowed to assign "their techs" any specific builds, because the union would have been in charge of assigning everything and they were choice assignments, so they would have gone to the "more senior" techs. 

I felt so bad for these poor guys, a couple of them had no degrees and had worked their asses off for this company, following the group around all over the country over 30 years.  I think several of them said fuck it and retired early. 

In theory I really like unions but sometimes they get things a little twisted :/

Kaydedid

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 218
My husband (age 30) works a skilled trade in a unionized shop in a dying industry.  We realize that this isn't going to be a lifelong career for him, so we're looking at reducing expenses and increasing other sources of revenue.  He also got an associates degree along with his technical certification to open doors to other types of employment.  We're riding the gravy train as long as possible, but are prepared for it to stop at any time.  Other blue-collar jobs around here only pay 1/2-2/3 the wage he's making, unless you travel extensively (not what he wants to do with a young family).  The union where he works is a bit of a joke, though.  It's controlled by senior workers who routinely barter away benefits for the younger workers in exchange for more retirement benefits.  They also shelter workers who should have been fired long ago.  And the $150/mo every worker is required to contribute just bought them a new union headquarters complex, staffed with hundreds of reps making 6 figures to play golf and schmooze.

And I absolutely agree with previous posters about jobs that wear your body out.  Both my husband and I have worked with industrial mechanics, and it's common for them to start getting knee and hip replacements in their early 50s. For being reasonably fit individuals, they also take an enormous amount of medication and often die early from heart attacks, suicide etc.

BCBiker

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
  • Location: Colorado
    • Business Casual Biker - Health, Wealth, and Mental Stealth BTYB Bicycle Commuting
At 60, this guy should have been in better shape financially, and he still has some money coming in from a pension and he should get ~2000 a month in SS.   He'll be fine.

That said, I'm going to assume that most of the people on this thread have never worked in labor, or been a union member.   I've done both.    Some of these comments are pretty heartless.   

I was an airline pilot making about $19,000 a year at a non-union carrier.   There were lots of examples of pilot pushing and people being back door fired for bringing up safety issues (generally a company pilot would bust them on a bs thing in the sim on their yearly proficiency check).     It finally all came home when 2 pilots that had already flown a 12 hour (FAA limit on a duty day) day were told that they now had to ferry an aircraft out of maintenance.     Unbeknownst to them, the mechanics had installed the pitch trim upside down.    As they took off and tried to relieve control pressure, they forced their aircraft into an unrecoverable nose down attitude that resulted in a crash into the ocean and their death.      Later, right after we finally became a member of a union, we had a crash in Buffalo that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people.    This was caused by pilot error exaggerated by the fact that people who make $19,000 a year can't really afford to live in their base in the NYC metro area.    Thus they'd been up for something like 19 hours after commuting and flying through bad weather. 

Watch the frontline investigation on this if you want to hear the whole story.

Some union members are overpaid for the work they do.     This is as much the fault of the company signing the contracts as any sort of union strong arm techniques though.    Unions allowed this country to have a middle class, we shouldn't forget this.   There's no reason that hard working blue collar workers shouldn't be paid a living wage.   I do think $140,000 is probably excessive (though it's probably the fault of human resources staffing errors), but $50-$70k should be within the realm of possibility.    Something that always struck home for me was the CEO pay that this guy mentioned.    We would have CEOs that did nothing for the company and only stayed for a few years, perhaps they made the stock go up a dollar because they laid a bunch of people off.    They rarely created a company that could weather future storms or had any idea where it would be in the next 3-4 years.    They invariably left with a nice 7 figure golden parachute while workers pay was stagnated or reduced.

Labor is important, and when we made shit like planes and tanks that won WWII we knew that.    We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.

I like this perspective. Yes, Unions can have their downsides, but the alternatives create bigger and fewer winners with many losers (generally laborers but also professionals). Me and my colleagues are getting pushed around by mindless administrators and greedy c-suite folks. I would like to see a Union but the environment for such things is pretty crappy (as one might notice from some comments on this thread).

eyePod

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 965
    • Flipping A Dollar
Reminds me of when GM went bankrupt.  All these similar "riding my HS diploma for my whole life in a union" guys were shocked when suddenly the best jobs they could get were $12 an hour instead of $75, when the answer to "what have you been doing for the last 30 years of your career?" was "the exact same shit I did 25 years ago...I just keep doing it and expecting a 10% raise every year".

Labor shock, everyone else get degrees or learned new skills :O

This frustrates me to no end because of my TOTALLY ANECDOTAL experience with the union guys. At my last job, they kept re-negotiating the union contract to require college degrees for new members while also paying the them less. And then they'd complain about that generation and all the "gripes" about student loans. Most of the members were terrible, especially the ones who ran the process. Not all of them of course. I found that the group was like a high school football team more than anything. Now, the mechanics were a different story. They knew how to fix things for sure.

And this guy is a moron. Sell the house.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 09:12:16 AM by eyePod »

ncornilsen

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 914
At 60, this guy should have been in better shape financially, and he still has some money coming in from a pension and he should get ~2000 a month in SS.   He'll be fine.

That said, I'm going to assume that most of the people on this thread have never worked in labor, or been a union member.   I've done both.    Some of these comments are pretty heartless.   

I was an airline pilot making about $19,000 a year at a non-union carrier.   There were lots of examples of pilot pushing and people being back door fired for bringing up safety issues (generally a company pilot would bust them on a bs thing in the sim on their yearly proficiency check).     It finally all came home when 2 pilots that had already flown a 12 hour (FAA limit on a duty day) day were told that they now had to ferry an aircraft out of maintenance.     Unbeknownst to them, the mechanics had installed the pitch trim upside down.    As they took off and tried to relieve control pressure, they forced their aircraft into an unrecoverable nose down attitude that resulted in a crash into the ocean and their death.      Later, right after we finally became a member of a union, we had a crash in Buffalo that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people.    This was caused by pilot error exaggerated by the fact that people who make $19,000 a year can't really afford to live in their base in the NYC metro area.    Thus they'd been up for something like 19 hours after commuting and flying through bad weather. 

Watch the frontline investigation on this if you want to hear the whole story.

Some union members are overpaid for the work they do.     This is as much the fault of the company signing the contracts as any sort of union strong arm techniques though.    Unions allowed this country to have a middle class, we shouldn't forget this.   There's no reason that hard working blue collar workers shouldn't be paid a living wage.   I do think $140,000 is probably excessive (though it's probably the fault of human resources staffing errors), but $50-$70k should be within the realm of possibility.    Something that always struck home for me was the CEO pay that this guy mentioned.    We would have CEOs that did nothing for the company and only stayed for a few years, perhaps they made the stock go up a dollar because they laid a bunch of people off.    They rarely created a company that could weather future storms or had any idea where it would be in the next 3-4 years.    They invariably left with a nice 7 figure golden parachute while workers pay was stagnated or reduced.

Labor is important, and when we made shit like planes and tanks that won WWII we knew that.    We used to make the best products in the world, a big part of that was a workforce that was paid a living wage. Now we all sort of settle for crappily made Asian products that only last a year instead of 20 and jobs that don't really do anything.

I like this perspective. Yes, Unions can have their downsides, but the alternatives create bigger and fewer winners with many losers (generally laborers but also professionals). Me and my colleagues are getting pushed around by mindless administrators and greedy c-suite folks. I would like to see a Union but the environment for such things is pretty crappy (as one might notice from some comments on this thread).

Usually people want a union until they have some experience with one.  Instead of being pushed around my mindless administrators and C-suite folks, you'll get pushed around by the same mindless admins and c-suiters, plus have a shop steward who's ass you must kiss, and you get to pay $100 a month for the privilege. That 100 bucks either gets embezzled by the union staff, goes to a political party that is actively working to shut down your industry... or well, that's about all it seems to go to. Then, when you need some help, they will "trade" your grievance with management to get a favorable outcome for those union members who play their skin flutes just right.  Oh, and you don't want to vote to go on a three week strike for $.25 an hour? They're very persuasive. I grew up with steel plates on the wall of my bedroom because some union thugs though a few rounds into the side of my families house would get dad to make the right vote.

Never again.