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Impact of Machinists' strike starts to spread beyond Boeing

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By Michelle Dunlop, Herald Writer
Published:
  • Arnold Ligtenberg sits along the BNSF railway in Mukilteo early Monday morning while picketing with a group of Boeing workers on the third day of thei...

    Kevin Nortz / The Herald

    Arnold Ligtenberg sits along the BNSF railway in Mukilteo early Monday morning while picketing with a group of Boeing workers on the third day of their strike.

EVERETT -- The effects of grounding 27,000 Machinists started surfacing Monday just three days into a labor strike at the Boeing Co.
From Everett to Wichita, Kan., the initial effects of shutting down Boeing's aircraft factories hit suppliers and community members. Machinists continued their round-the-clock picketing, which began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday after contract negotiations between the union and Boeing failed.
No further contract talks have been scheduled, though both sides maintain they're open to discussions.
On Monday, Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems announced it would reduce production volumes on various Boeing parts. The Wichita, Kan.-based company supplies fuselage sections for Boeing's commercial aircraft, including producing a one-piece composite barrel for the 787 Dreamliner.
Spirit employees will see their workweeks reduced as a result of the slowed production.
"We are working closely with our customer and taking the necessary steps as we respond to an unfortunate situation," said Jeff Turner, Spirit's president, in a press statement.
Spirit withdrew the 2008 financial outlook it had provided on July 31. The company will give a new estimate for both 2008 and 2009 after the strike has ended. Spirit implemented the shortened workweek when Machinists went on strike against Boeing in 2005 rather than halt production and lay off employees.
Boeing spokesman Tim Healy indicated last week when the strike was called that Boeing would work with individual suppliers to determine whether production of parts should continue.
In Snohomish County, Goodrich operates a landing gear production factory as well as an engine cover plant that Goodrich built for 787 Dreamliner product. Goodrich is still shipping parts to Boeing, said Laurie Tardiff, a spokeswoman for the company.
"We're watching the situation closely and hoping it's resolved quickly," she said.
About 36,000 people work in the aerospace industry in Snohomish County -- including Boeing Machinists and engineers and workers at other aerospace companies such as Goodrich.
Analysts estimate the labor strike costs Boeing as much as $100 million daily in lost production. Boeing's backlog of unfilled jet orders is so full that most of its airplane lines are sold out through the three years the Machinists' contract would cover. And the company is under pressure to get its delayed 787 Dreamliner jet on track.
Boeing officials have said the company offered the Machinists an "outstanding" offer that included an 11 percent wage hike over three years, bonuses and lump sum payments of at least $5,000 per Machinist. The union maintains that Boeing shifted money around by boosting health insurance maximums and cutting survivorship benefits on pension plans. Machinists also said the company's offer fell short on job security guarantees.
On the picket lines in Everett, Machinists say they're prepared for the long haul.
"We will continue this fight 'one day longer' than the company can afford until they meet your demands," said Tom Wroblewski, district president of the International Association of Machinists, in a note to members.
In the near term, the strike could cost some non-Boeing workers inside the factory.
Coffee-brewer Tully's said on Monday it will keep an eye on the Machinists' strike. Tully's operates several coffee shops on Boeing property in Everett, including shops inside the factory, in the main office complex and at the jet delivery center. The coffee roaster's "Main Street" location in the aircraft factory has been among Tully's highest sales locations anywhere in the country.
"Tully's hasn't made a decision to close its stores," a spokesman for the company said Monday.
Gary Zinter of Mill Creek said Monday that he already received his two-day layoff notification from the food services company that provides meals in Boeing's cafeterias. A Boeing retiree, Zinter took the position with Eurest Thompson to supplement his pension and Social Security payments.
"Instead of them -- the IAM -- getting back at Boeing, it's affecting the rest of us," Zinter said. "It's affecting the community."
The 66-year-old Zinter said he needs enough income to pay his wife's health insurance costs through Boeing. On Monday, he appealed not only to Boeing and the union but also to the governor's office to put an end to the strike.
"They need to stop playing games and reach an agreement," Zinter said.

Reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » EverettJobsStrikeMachinists

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