Like The Herald Business Journal on Facebook!
The Herald of Everett, Washington
Customer service  |  Subscribe   |   Log in or sign up   |   Advertising information   |   Contact us
Heraldnet.com

The top local business stories in your email

Contact Us:

Josh O'Connor
Publisher
Phone: 425-339-3007
joconnor@heraldnet.com

Maureen Bozlinski
General Sales Manager
Phone: 425-339-3445
Fax: 425-339-3049
mbozlinksi@heraldnet.com

Jim Davis
Editor
Phone: 425-339-3097
jdavis@heraldnet.com

Site address:
1800 41st Street, S-300,
Everett, WA 98203

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 930
Everett, WA 98206

HBJ RSS feeds

IAM counting ballots after day of voting on 777X

SHARE: facebook Twitter icon Pinterest icon Linkedin icon Google+ icon Email icon |  PRINTER-FRIENDLY  |  COMMENTS
By Dan Catchpole
Herald Writer
@dcatchpole
Published:
  • Boeing Machinists are directed in to cast their ballots at the Everett union hall Friday.

    Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

    Boeing Machinists are directed in to cast their ballots at the Everett union hall Friday.

  • A volunteer counter tallies ballots Friday night at the Machinists union hall in Seattle.

    Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

    A volunteer counter tallies ballots Friday night at the Machinists union hall in Seattle.

  • A volunteer counter tallies ballots Friday night at the Machinists union hall in Seattle.

    Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

    A volunteer counter tallies ballots Friday night at the Machinists union hall in Seattle.

SEATTLE -- Thousands of Machinists union members waited in line for up to two hours on a chilly Friday at union halls in Everett, Seattle, Renton, Auburn and Puyallup to vote on whether to accept or reject a contract proposal from the Boeing Co. that would cut benefits in exchange for a promise to build and assemble the new 777X airplane in metro Puget Sound.
So many turned out that voting continued well past the 6 p.m. closing time in Everett. And late Friday night union officials were still counting ballots.
Results were to be announced at the Seattle headquarters of District 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). But an estimated 9 p.m. announcement became 9:30, then 10.
District 751 represents about 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington and about 2,000 in Oregon and Kansas.
Many workers said the vote is about jobs -- either voting yes to keep jobs here or voting no to protect benefits far above industry standards.
Those voting no said they think Boeing is bluffing -- that it has to build the 777X in Everett. The company has largely stayed quiet during the process, but early on it said it needs to cut costs to remain competitive in the future and that building the 777X elsewhere might be an answer.
"Boeing hasn't explained why it needs to cut costs," said Jeremy Markley, a mechanic on the 777 line in Everett, while waiting in line to vote.
After Machinists turned down a previous contract offer in November, the company began a high-profile nationwide search to find a cheap location for making the jetliner. Washington and 21 other states have submitted proposals.
Last month, Washington lawmakers passed Boeing-friendly legislation with tax breaks worth $8.7 billion. But Boeing said that without a revised contract with the IAM, it still was inclined to look elsewhere.
The two sides resumed talks last month. Local union leaders rejected Boeing's "best and final" offer, but Tom Buffenbarger, the international president of IAM, forced District 751 to put it to a vote.
Boeing's offer would replace the current contract that ends in 2016 and wouldn't expire until 2024.
It would radically change retirement benefits from a defined pension plan to a defined contribution plan. Workers would keep whatever they had earned in a pension, but under the new terms, earned retirement benefits would go to defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s.
The offer also would increase how much employees have to pay for medical insurance, though it also improves dental coverage.
And Boeing's offer includes two lump-sum payments -- one at the beginning of the contract and a second in 2020 -- worth a combined $15,000.
Most significant, if Machinists approve the contract, Boeing promises to continue building the 737 MAX in Renton, to site 777X wing production in metro Puget Sound and final assembly of the new airplane in Everett.
The 777X is a planned new variant of the venerable widebody that has been built at Paine Field in Everett for almost 20 years.
The composite wing technology will be "the pivot point for Boeing to be successful in coming years," said Bob Drewel, head of the Washington Aerospace Partnership and former Snohomish County executive.
Losing that experience could make Washington less competitive for future commercial airplane production, he said.
Also, if Boeing begins shifting away from the state, many of its suppliers could leave as well, Drewel said. "If your customer moves away, it follows that you might move with it to keep costs down."
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com.

Story tags » 777LaborMachinistsAerospace

MORE HBJ HEADLINES

CALENDAR

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus

Market roundup