Boeing Contract Debate Divides Union Leadership

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“We need every member to stand with us in solidarity, and just say no to this takeaway offer. We are under a great deal of pressure to give up our pension, pay dramatically more in healthcare costs, and stagnate wage growth so we have less take-home pay going forward. We are asked to accept less when Boeing has record profits, record backlogs and approved a $10 billion stock buy back. Machinists stand ready to build the 777X. We are the key to a successful 777X future. Rejecting this concessionary offer, does not diminish all the advantages of building the plane here. Our current wages and benefits are less than 5 percent of airplane costs without these concessions. Vote no and tell Boeing to focus on building the 777X here because analysts, customers and shareholders agree — that is the right choice!”

Those words appeared on poster announcing a solidarity rally ahead of the January 3 union vote on the latest Boeing (NYSE:BA) contract, showing that a significant opposition to the latest offer exists among District 751 members of the 31,000-strong International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. If members of Boeing’s largest union reject the eight-year contract extension, the jet manufacturer will not build the wing of its newest aircraft — the redesigned 777X — in Washington state, company executives told government officials in the Seattle area on Monday.

However, as Reuters reported, Boeing has not ruled out setting up the final assembly of the plane or construction of its fuselage in the Puget Sound area if local union members turn down the proposal. “They made it very clear that if there is a ‘no’ vote on the contract, they will not build the composite wing here,” Kent, Washington mayor Suzette Cooke told the publication. “It left the other parts of the plane in question.” She is confident that union workers will approve the latest proposal. “It is such a sweet deal,” Cooke added, explaining that Boeing workers would secure better pay and benefits than most other American workers if they vote yes.

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