By Dan Catchpole
International leaders of the Machinists union are overriding local union leaders to force a vote in early January on the latest contract proposal from the Boeing Co.
If its approved, the contract would cut existing benefits but guarantee production of Boeing’s new 777X airplane in and near Everett.
The local union, District 751 posted a statement on its website Saturday “adamantly recommending members reject this offer.” Previously, District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said he rejected the offer last week because it is too similar to one rejected by rank-and-file members last month by a 2-to-1 margin.
Wroblewski has pressed Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, for a written explanation of his decision to force the vote.
IAM spokesman Frank Larkin said Buffenbarger’s main concern is to ensure members have the final say on Boeing’s offer.
After District 751 rejected it last week, many members said they wanted to vote. But it is not clear that a majority of the roughly 31,000 district members working at Boeing want a vote despite their leadership’s rejection, let alone if a majority would approve the offer.
The IAM’s move drew heated criticism from some members Saturday.
“This is not about democracy, this is about forcing their agenda,” said Wilson ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, a rank-and-file leader.
He called the timing “dastardly,” as local leaders will have difficulty communicating with members since Boeing shuts down between Christmas and the new year.