Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

its own specifications for customized vehicles.” Jay added that standardization has been the key to success with the 727 airplane, which is the same for United Airlines as for American. If United runs out of a part, it can get one from American. Mass transit operations began to look like an on again-off again market for the Vertol plant with greater customization than anticipated. It should be noted that this reconversion occurred during the late-Carter period which grew increasingly military-oriented in the last 12-18 months of that administration. And when Reagan assumed office, the practical limitation was simply the major deemphasis of non-mili- tary spending. As Winpisinger points out, economic conversion must take place while military projects are still on the upswing—before the funds fall off and people are laid off. Marketing and planning which is done before the crunch is more effective than expecting a conversion project to succeed based on trial and error. Boeing has demonstrated experience in the areas of wind and solar energy as well. It built four 2.5-kilowatt windmills in Goldendale, Washington and one for the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in California. Production of wind turbines requires the same skills that aerospace workers possess: design and production engineers, inspectors, machinists, assemblers, electricians and precision machine operators. Boeing researchers have developed a thin solar cell which is 60 percent as efficient as silicon solar cells, but at about one percent of the cost of silicon photovoltaic cells, which are currently prohibitive due to cost. Marketing the thin solar cell could dramatically increase the use of solar energy, but so far there has been limited production of it. Pacifists for Full Employment purchased stock this year for the eventual purpose of introducing a resolution at a stockholders’ meeting. A stockholder must have owned stock for a year before a resolution can be put on an agenda, to be voted on 6-months later. After this waiting period, the group intends to propose conversion of the ALCM plant and other conversion proposals. National Policy Harlan Munsinger of the Machinists Union says that the problem with conversion is not a technical difficulty in terms of job transfers or retraining. “An airplane doesn’t care whether it has bombs or not. Most heavy industry in the U.S. is exactly the same. The Machinists Union would rather build airplanes than bombs, and Boeing has shown it can transfer back and forth between military and peacetime whenever it wants to. We’d rather have it all go over to the social side. “Conversion is going to have to be on a national basis, from the federal contracts or the Pentagon. When you’re in an operation to make money for your stockholders, you have to go to where the contracts are. If all Boeing workers refused to work on a military project, then the contract would go to General Dynamics. You need a national program to do mass transit, railroads and so forth. It shouldn’t be done on a piecemeal basis.” Munsinger said that a national policy would involve fair trade, not free trade. He said that tax laws are written favoring multi-national corporations at the management level. He noted that Japan putting a 100 percent duty on American cars while the U.S. doesn’t duty theirs is unThe Machinists Union would rather build airplanes than bombs, and Boeing has shown it can transfer back and forth between military and peacetime whenever it wants to. We’d rather have it all go over to the social side. In Converting the Work Force by Marion Anderson, an analysis is provided showing net gain or loss of jobs if $10 billion were converted from military production to conversion industries. The Job Impact of Transferring $10 Billion from Military to Conversion Industries MILITARY CONVERSION NET JOB GAIN JOBS LOST JOBS GAINED OR LOST Professional, Technical and Kindred Workers —62,100 + 81,500 + 19,400 Managers, Officials and Proprietors -25,000 + 26,500 + 1,500 Sales Workers - 8,700 + 9,600 + 900 Clerical Workers -58,800 +59,700 + 900 Craft and Kindred Workers -70,400 +64,100 + 6,300 Operatives (Factory Workers) -92,700 + 100,400 - 7,700 Service Workers -15,200 + 22,000 + 6,800 Laborers Except Farm TOTAL JOBS GAINED -11,700 + 14,700 + 3,000 +34,000 From Converting the Work Force Employment Research Associates This distribution is based on distributing the $10 billion as follows: Used Wlth Permission —$5 billion in solar energy —$1 billion in the production of gasahol —$1.5 billion in the production of railroad equipment —$1 billion in the construction of fishing vessels —$.5 billion In miscellaneous professional services —$1 billion in educational services Bureau of Labor Statistics analyses were used to determine personnel figures corresponding to dollars spent. Only the category of Craft and Kindred workers experiences a net loss in employment. Although 90 percent of those workers would be hired by conversion industries, another 6,300 workers would be entering a rapidly growing job category. There would be a net job loss of 3,400 electrical engineers in the Professional and Technical jobs category, coupled with an increase in the need for civil engineers. Bob Baker of Seattle Professional Engineering Employees Association said that it would take about a year to retrain an electrical engineer to a civil engineer. The problem with conversion is not a lack of technical flexibility but rather a form of monopoly by certain business and defense sectors but on the beliefs of all of us who are conditioned to think that preparation for war will somehow prevent one. fair to the American worker. Military employment is high technology, closer to the workerless factory concept. Munsinger stated that Germany provides an example of a national policy that is set up to build a fixed number of airplanes per year in order to keep people working. “In Japan it’s the same way. Japan sees that people work.” Munsinger noted that although unemployment figures are quoted at about 8 percent, everyone knows that the real figure is closer to 15 percent unemployment in this country. “If necessary, the federal government could become the employer of last resort, hiring people to rebuild roads and bridges.” Rep. Dick Nelson also made the connection between Boeing and national policy. “We have such a strongly entrenched military industrial effort locally that it tends to ride out some of the inherent instability. Boeing’s military programs remain rather stable. The argument has to be more global—that our survival and security does not depend on those weapon systems. “The Boeing Company has no difficulty converting if it wants to,” Nelson added. “It knows how to marshall resources in a variety of areas. It there’s money to be made, they can do it. The difficulty is in the minds of Congress, the federal government, and business people who are wed to those military projects because they turn a buck and make a goqd profit.” In The Impact of Military Spending on the Machinists Union, Marion Anderson points out that a proposed cut from the Pentagon budget of $14.3 billion is substantially less than what the American taxpayer has been promised since 1970. During the Vietnam War we were promised a $20 billion “peace dividend” when the war was over. At war’s end, the military budget was $80 billion. Four years later, the Pentagon was receiving $105 billion. And two years after Presidentelect Carter had promised an annual reduction of $5-7 billion, he was asking for $127 billion. “The 14.3 billion needed for a serious start on conversion,” Anderson notes, “is less than 14 month's increment for the Pentagon. This is the capital which could give us a major start on solar energy, bring our railroads and mass transit into the late twentieth century, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and give hundreds of thousands of our people jobs.” The problem with conversion is not a lack of technical flexibility but rather a form of monopoly by certain business and defense sectors not only on economic production but on the beliefs of all of us who are conditioned to think that preparation for war will somehow prevent one. It is doubtful that those who make bombs on a day-to-day basis actually believe that this production will contribute to our security as a nation or as a species. One is reminded of a line in a recent play by Arthur Kopit, produced recently by Seattle’s A Contemporary Theater. The playwright (within the play) asks another character about people who work on weapons, “If they know it (the policy of deterrence) doesn’t work, why do they work on it?” Answer: “Because they don’t believe what they know.” The notion of economic conversion may be fapciful at a place like Boeing where a variety of military agendas are so deeply entrenched. However, economic necessity may generate the trend in other companies, and Boeing would then likely choose to compete for the new markets, especially in the conversion industries in which Boeing has already developed expertise. There are a variety of future scenarios, which, though impossible to predict, could enhance the appeal of conversion, even for Boeing. One instance involves Japan’s increasing expertise in the aircraft business. This alone might encourage Boeing to seek a broader market. In such a case it would be wise for conversion advocates to have laid some of the appropriate groundwork. For conversion to succeed as a longterm alternative to the country’s current economic (and moral) dilemma it must involve citizens on the local level. And pressure would have to come from the rank and file of Boeing’s workforce, as well as those engineering and professional employees with vision. To say that economic conversion ultimately requires a major shift in national policy seems to be true; but the path to communicating with officials at the federal level may be covered with some definitive grassroots. Writer Melissa Laird lives in Seattle. Her last story in CSQ was the award-winning “Radiation on the Rocks,” on the proposed nuclear waste depository at Hanford. Dan McMillan studies Journalism at the University of Oregon. All photos courtesy of the Boeing Company. Clinton St. Quarterly 39