Boeing: Offer to Machinists did require endorsement

The Boeing Co. confirmed Tuesday that its contract proposal to the Machinists union last week was indeed offered with a stipulation that union leaders recommend a yes vote to members.

But that was asking too much, union District 751 President Tom Wroblewski has said since talks fell apart. The talks included local and national representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and Boeing Commercial Airplanes at its offices in Renton.

Tuesday’s announcement clarifies what happened Thursday. Wroblewski has said that the company withdrew the offer when told the union’s leadership would not endorse its passage. Boeing said the union had outright rejected the offer but declined to confirm Wroblewski’s description of a stipulation.

“We were sincere in asking for the union leadership’s commitment to support our improved final proposal as a tentative agreement that would be taken to a vote by IAM members with a recommendation for approval,” said an email sent to employees Tuesday morning by Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing’s offer is still on the table, he said.

“We would not back away from an offer we made in good faith to our team. It was a rejection, plain and simple, and we now have to turn and face the reality of the union leadership’s final decision,” Conner said in his message.

If approved, the latest proposal would retain the current wage advancement schedule, keep 737 MAX production in Renton until 2024, improve dental coverage, pay out an additional $5,000 lump sum in 2020 and better define 777X work that would remain in the area as part of the agreement.

Besides the requirement for a yes recommendation, Wroblewski said, he didn’t take the offer to members because it is too similar to one overwhelmingly rejected by union members in mid-November.

District 751 leaders have found themselves politically isolated since rejecting the aerospace giant’s proposal on Thursday.

Many rank-and-file union members, elected officials and even IAM national representatives have said that the offer should be put to a vote.

Organized labor leaders and at least one state representative in Washington have started pushing back, publicly supporting Wroblewski’s decision. Many rank-and-file Machinists have also said they support the leadership’s decision.

Boeing is reviewing bids for 777X work from 22 states, and “this week we are narrowing that list down to a handful, from which our final decisions will be made,” Conner said in his email.

The company will announce its decision by early next year, he said.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com.

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