Its bald-faced, bare-knuckled display of corporate muscle shocked and infuriated many, but ultimately it worked for the Boeing Co. With the willing assistance of Washington state political leaders, the highly profitable aerospace giant shamelessly bullied Machinists union members into a corner and twisted their arms into accepting a new contract that ends their traditional defined-benefit pension.

The sad truth is that Boeing's successful strategy will become a template for other private sector companies offering defined benefit pensions, no matter the size of their profit margins.

It's not that the members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers caved, exactly. The contract was approved by a razor-thin margin – 51 to 49 percent. And it's not that their contract was about to expire – this is an eight-year extension of a pact that runs to 2016. And it's not that Boeing – a manufacturing marvel that's one of the world's two dominant aerospace companies – is in trouble and needed the workers' concessions to survive.

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