The Fair Shots Blog

1-Unions Help African-American Women Begin to Close Pay Gap

2-Near Seattle, $15 an Hour Minimum Wage and Boom in Hotels Co-Exist

3-Bob Martinez Jr.: Boeing Moves to Export Work Threatens American Aerospace Industry

1) African-American women earn less than two-thirds the pay of white men, the Economic Policy Institute reports. That was occasion today for Black Women's Equal Pay Day. That unacceptable pay gap takes into account education, years of experience and location, EPI said.

  The slightest ray of light can be seen in this bad news. African-American women who belong to unions make 73 percent of the pay of white men instead of just 64 percent.  Via the web site Bustle:

  "Pay inequity directly touches the lives of black women in at least three distinct ways," Valerie Wilson, Janelle Jones, Kayla Blado, and Elise Gould reported on the EPI blog. "Since few black women are among the top five percent of earners in this country, they have experienced the relatively slow wage growth that characterizes growing class inequality along with the vast majority of other Americans. But in addition to this class inequality, they also experience lower pay due to gender and race bias."

  Sophia A. Nelson reported for the Huffington Post that white, male dominance in most high-powered career fields feeds into the #BlackWomenAtWork narrative that went viral in Mar. 2017 when Bill O'Reilly dismissed Congresswoman Maxine Waters' perspective on President Trump during an appearance on Fox & Friends, stating he "didn't hear a word" she said because of what he referred to as her "James Brown Wig."

  "It shows that old stereotypes and notions about women in general and black women specifically still hurt us in the workplace," Nelson wrote. "Men still make the rules, and wield decision making power. Until that changes, progress for white women will be slower, and for women of color it will be painfully slow at best."

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2) An area near Seattle is finding out - in the hospitality industry, no less - that a $15 an hour minimum wage is no barrier at all to a boom, The New York Times reports.

  The Texas minimum wage remains mired at $7.25 an hour:

  When SeaTac, Wash., became the first city in the nation to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage in 2013, Jeff Robinson, the city's director of community and economic development, said critics warned him that it would scare away businesses.

  But the higher minimum wage hasn't done that at all. The hotel industry is a prime example: Nine hotels are in development, which will increase the available rooms by 25 percent, to 7,000.

  SeaTac is home to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, now the ninth busiest in the nation, and a new light rail line links the airport to Seattle. Nearby are the corporate headquarters of Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco and Nordstrom, and Seattle's unemployment rate has been hovering around 3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  Michael H. Mahoney, president of the Dallas-based development company Western International, said his company had not built anything in the Seattle area for more than 10 years, but it was drawn to SeaTac because some available property there bordered a lake and the light rail system had just been built. Business travelers can stay near the airport where it is a bit less expensive than in downtown Seattle, he said, "and close to their flight home," but they still have easy access to downtown for meetings or entertainment.

  He said he considered the $15 minimum wage before deciding to go ahead with a 176-room Residence Inn by Marriott that is scheduled to open next spring, but it was not the determining factor. "We are competing for quality people seeking the best jobs, so would likely have been at that threshold anyway," he said.

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3) Bob Martinez Jr., our Texas union Brother who became President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, posted a column in The Seattle Times discussing the threat to American research and production capability caused by Boeing's decision to outsource portions of its work on the 737 MAX 10 to China and Russia.

  Martinez paints the developing low-road picture clearly:

  Boeing executives are gushing over the company's stock, up a whopping 58 percent over the last 12 months. Washington state's homegrown aerospace giant left the Paris Air Show with 571 orders worth $75 billion. Its chief competitor, Airbus, had 336.

 A fourth of Boeing's air-show orders were for the 737 MAX 10, built by Boeing Machinists right here in the Puget Sound region. After a successful launch in Paris, Boeing's top marketing officer said the newest 737 derivative was "clearly the star of the show." Boeing already has more than 300 orders for the 777X, still three years from rolling off the production line.

  The company is enjoying simultaneously robust outlooks in both commercial and defense. That's what makes Boeing's recent job cuts, its deepest in more than a decade, even more upsetting.

  When a company is thriving, it's often taken for granted that the employees who make it possible are sharing in the success. That's the way it used to be for generations of Boeing Machinist families. It made for a good living for hundreds of thousands of people, who spent their hard-earned dollars in the Seattle area.

  The success-sharing model also made Boeing the most innovative and productive aerospace company the world has ever seen. Its dedicated and skilled workforce, who for a century have tackled every challenge in front of them, continue to make the industry's most advanced - and profitable - aircraft. This year, Boeing reported a second-quarter net profit of $1.8 billion.

  But at a time when many North American companies are bringing work home, Boeing is doing the opposite. Thus far in 2017, the company has shed more than 6,000 jobs, some 4 percent of its workforce, most of them in Washington state. Over the past four years, Boeing has reduced its Seattle-area workforce by more than 20,000.

  Boeing's pursuit of short-term profit for stockholders and executives is not only repulsive; it threatens the long-term viability of the entire North American aerospace industry. The Machinists Union has been sounding the alarm about this for decades. State lawmakers in Olympia should take the advice of more than 30,000 Machinists Union District 751 members who for years have advocated for common sense legislation tying the company's eligibility for taxpayer dollars to the number of people the company employs in Washington state. Working families in the Puget Sound need this protection now.

  Boeing will soon open a 737 finishing center in China, and a Boeing titanium plant will begin operations in Russia next summer. Many of the parts and components for the 737 and 787 are already produced overseas, including wings for the 787.

  When our work leaves, so does our research and development superiority. China's first modern large jet, the C919, made by the state-owned aerospace manufacturer Comac, celebrated its maiden flight this year. It's a matter of when, not if, China begins challenging Boeing for jet orders. If Boeing thinks Europe gives Airbus an unfair advantage now, just wait until the Chinese government puts its full attention toward making itself the world's leading aerospace manufacturer.

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