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Machinists Head Steps Down: 'Your Job Should Not Destroy Your Health'

Photo IAM District 751

The drama over the Boeing 777X jet has claimed its first casualty.

Tom Wroblewski, president of the Machinists Union District Lodge 751, announced on Tuesday night that he is retiring to a small group of elected representatives from local lodges. His last day is Jan. 31.

In a statement, Wroblewski said the pressure from politicians and Boeing had become too stressful. He has been hospitalized twice in recent weeks – once before the Jan. 3 vote and once after.

That experience "changed my perspective on work-life balance," Wroblewski said in a statement. “Your job should not destroy your health."

In November, Wroblewski found himself at the heart of the debate over whether union machinists in Washington state should vote on Boeing’s proposed contract. The eight-year contract axed pensions for new members and changed health care benefits.

At the time, Wroblewski stood before a crowd of Boeing machinists, tore up a copy of the proposed contract and said he would try to stop it from coming to a vote.

"I know this is a piece of crap," Wroblewski said, according to The Seattle Times.

The contract went to vote, but 67 percent of the members voted against it in the November elections.

When Boeing floated out another contract, the machinists argued over whether that should go to a vote. It did, and on Jan. 3, the machinists narrowly approved the contract, guaranteeing the 777X wing would be built in Washington state.

On Tuesday, the machinists struck down a committee to run an election to replace Wroblewski. It remains unclear who will replace him in the interim. His replacement would serve out his term through 2016.   

Wroblewski has been president of the local union since March 2007.

"We now have been awarded the right to build the 777X, and we must find a way to move this membership forward," he said in the statement. "I leave here honored to have served this membership, knowing that I always had the best interests of this membership guiding me."

Produced for the Web by Isolde Raftery.