Boeing terminates contract with union paint contractor

Boeing hangars at the Portland airport, where contracted workers paint Boeing planes.
Boeing hangars at the Portland airport, where contracted workers paint Boeing planes.

Boeing is terminating its contract with Commercial Aircraft Painting Services (CAPS) — the company that paints its aircraft in Portland. Workers at CAPS had just voted on July 8 to unionize with Machinists District Lodge W24, and were in the process of negotiating a first union contract. But CAPS’ five-year contract with Boeing was set to expire Jan. 31.

The contract is for painting new Boeing planes after assembly in Everett, Washington, before delivery to customers. The work is supervised by Boeing employees, and takes place in a pair of aircraft hangars that Boeing leases from the Port of Portland. CAPS sought to renew the contract, but it was up against bids from two other companies, and it lost the contract to STTS, an aircraft painting company headquartered in Blagnac, France.

Painting of the Boeing aircraft will continue in the Portland hangars, but under the direction of STTS starting Feb. 1.

CAPS notified the State of Oregon Dec. 1 that it will terminate its 147 union-represented employees effective Jan. 31, 2017, and 27 management employees no later than Feb. 28.

STTS operates in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and this would be its first operation in North America.

In a Dec. 1 letter to CAPS management and staff, STTS Christophe Cador said the company’s top priority over the next two months will be to recruit its U.S. workforce.

“We need to meet with CAPS management over the next few days to agree appropriate protocols but we would like to give you, the staff, a more comprehensive presentation of the STTS Group, our implementation plan for launching in Portland and our employment offer, in the hope that some of you will want to join STTS USA Inc, or indeed any of our subsidiaries around the world,” Cador wrote.

If STTS hires more than half of the incumbent employees, it would be obliged by federal labor law to recognize the incumbent union.

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