That's about $37.5 million flowing into the Puget Sound region as retailers prepare for the holidays.
This is the final lump-sum payment in the Machinists' four-year contract, which comes up for negotiation again in 2012. Boeing made a similar payment to union Machinists in the area last year. And, in 2008, after the Machinists agreed to the contract, they received a payment equivalent to 10 percent of their gross annual earnings or $5,000 — whichever was greater. However, that payment merely made up for some of the Machinists' lost wages after 57 days on strike.
Machinists could either take this week's payment as cash or could have it diverted into their retirement funds, said Tim Healy, Boeing spokesman.
To be eligible for the payment, Machinists had to be on Boeing's payroll as of Sept. 3, 2010.
The option of putting the $1,500 in retirement was new last year, said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. Kelliher estimated that about 25 percent of union members had their payments put toward retirement in 2009.
Although the Machinists won't receive a lump-sum payment in 2011, Kelliher pointed out that union members are scheduled to receive a 4 percent general wage increase in September 2011.
Union members received 3 percent pay increases in 2009 and 2010 and 5 percent in 2008. Prior to that, however, Machinists had not received a general wage increase since 2004.
While Boeing Machinists receive their negotiated lump-sum payments, they are not eligible for an employee incentive plan for which most of Boeing's other workers qualify, including engineers.