During a rally for unionized Boeing workers, Kshama Sawant, a
recently elected Seattle City Councilmember and self-identified
socialist, told her supporters that Boeing workers should consider
taking over the factory.
Sawant, who ran on a platform
to raise the Seattle minimum wage to $15 per hour, unionize Amazon
and Starbucks, increase rent control, and “reduce the unfair tax
burden on small businesses, homeowners, and workers,” has been
headlines for her electoral victory earlier this week. She is
one of the first Socialist party candidates to win a major
in decades. Now, just days after entering office, she is
stirring crowds with radical declarations.
The Boeing Machinists Rally was held on Monday in response to
contract negotiation disputes between Boeing management and
union representatives. The union rejected a contract proposal that
would have guaranteed workers jobs for eight years to build the new
777X airliner in exchange for new employees giving up their company
Boeing representatives responded that the company does not plan
to reopen a conversation with the union to renegotiate. Instead,
representative Raymond Connor said that the company would consider
moving its operations out of state and possibly out of the
country. Angered by Boeing’s announcement, supporters of the union
gathered to hear Sawant speak.
told the crowd: “[If Boeing leaves], that will be nothing short
of economic terrorism because it’s going to devastate the state’s
Her solution? Simply don’t allow them to leave. According to
KIRO TV, the Councilmember advocated a worker takeover of the
means of production:
The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree
to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines
are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need
the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists
do. The workers should take over the factories, and shut down
Boeing’s profit-making machine.
Once workers take over operations, Sawant argued that they
should switch from producing “war machines” to public transit
vehicles like buses.
Slate‘s Matthew Yglesias
derided Sawant’s proposal as unrealistic idealism:
Can Boeing’s front-line workers actually retool an airplane
factory and turn it to bus production and win contracts to sell
buses that raise enough revenue to keep everyone employed? Only
time will tell for sure, but in the real world the answer is “no.”
This is exactly what you need executives for.
Retooling plants, establishing relationships with suppliers and
customers, understanding the size of the market for buses, and all
that other stuff is a non-trivial task.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/21/socialist-seattle-councilmember-tells-bo