Members of Machinists District 751 in Puget Sound and District W24 in Portland employed at Boeing Co. have been ordered by their international union to vote on a second contract proposal the company made Dec. 12.
Boeing has threatened to move production of the new 777X to another state if workers don’t agree to the deal.
The vote was scheduled for Jan. 3, just a day after Boeing’s assembly workers returned from their annual two-week holiday break (and after this issue of the Labor Press went to press).
Machinists District 751 is “emphatically recommending that members reject the offer,” as it is largely unchanged from one that members turned down by a 2-to-1 margin on Nov. 13.
Boeing is demanding an eight-year contract with drastic concessions in re- tirement and health care benefits, and wage increases of only 1 percent every other year, in return for what District 751 says are vague promises of making Washington the home for the new 777X jet.
“The only guarantees this contract makes are that future Machinists won’t have a defined benefit pension, current Machinists will pay more for health care, and everyone will have sharp limits on their future earnings,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski.
Boeing sweetened its cash offer, adding a $5,000 lump sum bonus in January 2020 to a $10,000 ratification bonus that was offered in the first proposal. The company also withdrew its earlier demand to slow the wage progression for new hires. The offer reverts to the status quo, which is that new hires can reach the top of the pay scale in six years (and not 16 years as previously proposed).
Machinists are currently working under a contract that doesn’t expire until September 2016. That agreement has been in place since 2008.
In a letter to all Boeing Machinists, International President Tom Buffenbarger said Jan. 3 will be the “final vote” on a contract. He said the union “must take the threat seriously” that Boeing will leave Washington (if the contract is rejected). He wrote that given the fact several states have tendered serious offers and incentive packages to the company, “the timeline for the Puget Sound area is expiring.”
Prior to the union vote on Nov. 13, the Washington Legislature in a special session granted Boeing a $8.7 billion tax incentive package through 2024. It is the largest state tax subsidy for a private corporation in U.S. history.