You know you live under an authoritarian regime when…
1. Your government leader denies you the right to vote—or denies a fair election.
2. Your government leader tells you that he has your best interests at heart. He knows what is best for you and will make your decisions for you. You have no choice but to capitulate or face the consequences of non-compliance.
3. Your government hides information and disperses propaganda as a means to control public opinion.
4. You’re afraid to speak-out publically against your government. A word against your leader is a word against your… peace-of-mind.
5. You use terms like “escape” when talking about leaving the country.
Authoritarian rule manifests itself in many different forms. The characteristics of authoritarian rule recently became pronounced in the case of the local Machinists union under the leadership of district president Tom Wroblewski.
Last week, Machinists leaders send Boeing a contract proposal in an attempt to secure 777X production in Washington State. Boeing responded with a counter-offer, a new contract proposal they called their “final” offer. Union leaders rejected Boeing’s final offer. Despite demands by union members to exercise their right to decide their own futures, Machinists district president Tom Wroblewski refuses bring the new contract to a vote by the “rank-and-file.” Of course, Wroblewski—as president of the Machinists union—will still have a job if Boeing moves 777X operations outside of the state.
Number 1 on the list: check.
Wroblewski assumed the role of be-all and end-all decision-maker-of-Boeing-contracts with his refusal to allow a vote by the lowly “rank-and-file.” He wrote, “I could not recommend the offer.” Wroblewski justified his decision by claiming Boeing’s final offer was virtually the same as the first. Presumably because their omniscient president knows best, union members do not need to trouble themselves with the distress of voting for another “piece-of-crap” contract.
Let’s review Boeing’s new contract offer. Among the latest and greatest:
– Withdrawal of original proposal to “slow the wage growth of new hires.”
– An additional $5,000 bonus in the middle of the contract added to the initial $10,000 signing bonus.
– Better dental coverage.
– The continuation of an existing offer “to fund 401(k)s with 10% of gross salary in the first two years of the new contract”—on offer that is “above-market 401(k) contributions.”
All the new perks of Boeing’s contract offer reveals that President Wromblewski is not as all-knowing as he would have the “rank-and-file” believe. The new perks demand a new vote.
Number 2 on the list: check.
Wroblewski attempted to soothe anger over his refusal to allow union members their right to vote through lies. He claimed that Boeing removed their contract offer so a vote was not possible. Boeing tells a very different story. Their final offer is still on the table.
On Friday, Wroblewski endeavored to explain his position on Boeing’s new contract offer to union members. He dispersed a highly slanted summary of the offer in a twisted effort to shape opinions. According to The Seattle Times, “the document fed the worst conspiracy theories among the rank and file…” Wroblewski—like the best of propagandists—attempted to dress deceit in truth and represent conspiracy theories as facts in order to control the message heard by the “rank-and-file.”
Number 3 on the list: check and check.
The Times’ latest article on Wroblewski’s refusal to allow a vote on Boeing’s contract indirectly underscores a fear—or ingrained taboo—on the part union members to speak out against their leaders. Union members interviewed who support Wroblewski’s decision freely identify themselves. Machinists who dare criticize Wroblewski and demand a vote prefer to withhold their names and remain anonymous. Considering union’s long history of collusion and intimidation tactics, fearing the consequences of publically speaking out against leaders is an all too sad reality of union membership.
Number 4 on the list: check.
As for number 5 on the list—if union members are not talking about escaping their leaders, Boeing certainly is… and that means fleeing Washington State.