IAFF and Labor rallies outside Boeing’s DC-area headquarters, calling for end to fire fighter lockout

Local I-66, consisting of 125 fire fighters and emergency medical workers in Washington state, were locked out on May 4.

May 14 • 2024

More than a hundred members, leaders, and supporters of the IAFF gathered outside Boeing Headquarters in Arlington, Va., demanding an end to the company’s lockout of Boeing Fire Fighters Local I-66 members in Washington state. 

Local I-66 – consisting of 125 fire fighters and emergency medical workers – were locked out on May 4 after demanding better wages and working conditions. 

While I-66 members are on the picket lines and negotiations continue in Washington state, support is pouring in from over 2,700 miles away. 

“It was very encouraging to see General President Edward Kelly, 4th District Vice President Andrew Pantelis, AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler and our sisters and brothers on East Coast joining the rally and giving support. It is very comforting for the members of I-66 and a testament to all our members in the IAFF of what solidarity is,” said 7th District Vice President Ricky Walsh. “Boeing’s CEO and decision-makers are not at the table in Seattle and it’s important to take it to their house.” 

“Our families are suffering because of you locking us out. We won’t stand for it. We’re not going anywhere,” Kelly said outside Boeing’s offices near the nation’s capital. 

The crowd took to the street with signs in hand, chanting, “What do we want? Contracts. When do we want it? Now!” 

“We’ve got a hundred members from across the IAFF 4th District and we’re here in solidarity with our fire fighters out in the Pacific Northwest, who were unfairly locked out of their job due to corporate greed,” said Pantelis. “We have the AFL-CIO president here, members of Congress, GP Kelly, regional and state leaders marching, because they know the importance of what it means to be locked out of your job, a secure paycheck, to be unfairly taken off the floor, not being able to feed your families and take care of your families. We’re going to stand in solidarity with our members until Boeing returns them back to work.”

Our families are suffering because of you locking us out. We won’t stand for it. We’re not going anywhere.

General President Edward Kelly

Schuler marched with supporters, saying an injury to one is an injury to all. “The courageous members in Seattle who have put their livelihoods on the line, who have said, ‘Enough is enough, we need a fair contract,’ those are the individuals we advocate for daily in the labor movement.” 

Representative Val Hoyle (D-Oregon), who comes from a union family and is a strong supporter of the IAFF, called on Boeing to end the lockout. 

“I’m here in Congress because my dad joined the union. We have 125 fire fighters, IAFF members, who [Boeing] thinks they can isolate and take down. But they are taking on the entire house of labor who have the backs of the IAFF,” she said. “The entire labor caucus is with you, and we will not stand down. Boeing has no idea what fight they picked.” 

Some IAFF members brought their families in support. “Not only did I want to come out in solidarity and support, but my entire family came out as well,” said Mitch Nason, president of Prince William Professional Fire Fighters Local 2598. “We’re treating this as a field trip today, and I couldn’t think of a better way to teach labor history and activism than them actually being out here on the picket line.” 

IAFF members and leaders are demonstrating support through action, showing that “within union there is strength.” 

“Keep up the hard work. There’s so many of us around this country, two countries, that have your back and solidarity, and we learned today, the last couple of weeks, that it’s not just the IAFF, it’s union workers all throughout the labor industry that have your back,” said Nason.