By Mike Baker Associated Press
SEATTLE — Some machinists in Puget Sound plan to rally in favor of a Boeing contract vote, a union member said Monday, escalating tensions over the handling of negotiations tied to the new 777X passenger airplane.
Mechanic Paul Fritzler said there is growing fear among workers that Boeing is prepared to send the work — and likely thousands of jobs — to another state as a way to save money.
Many workers want a chance to vote on Boeing’s latest offer, even though union leaders have said the contract is too similar to one rejected last month, Fritzler said. Federal, state and local political leaders also have called for a vote.
Fritzler and his family are organizing a Wednesday rally to show how many machinists also support that opportunity.
“If there’s a big enough show of support, the union will see that there’s more people that want to vote than they think,” he said.
Union leaders have said there is nothing to vote on because Boeing withdrew its offer. Boeing has said the offer was rejected by union leaders, not withdrawn.
Boeing’s latest offer adds an additional $5,000 in bonus pay and backs away from slowing the rate at which employees move up the pay scale.
However, Boeing has stuck with its push to move workers out of a traditional pension and into a 401(k)-style retirement savings plan.
Machinists voted down the first contract offer in November.
Boeing immediately began soliciting bids from other states. The Chicago-based company said it has received proposals from 22 states eager for the 777X work, since it would likely bring thousands of stable jobs with it.
The 777X is expected to be a strong seller for Boeing, and the company received orders for 225 such planes from three airlines at the Dubai Airshow last month.
Boeing began offering the 777X in May, but it’s still finalizing plans for the plane and aiming to deliver the first aircraft by the end of the decade. Boeing has said it is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and be more fuel efficient than the current 777.