By Dan Catchpole
Since Machinists narrowly approved a new contract with the Boeing Co., the aerospace giant should soon be mailing $10,000 bonus checks to union-member employees.
But with some Machinists challenging the results, many of the more than 32,000 Machinists working for the company are wondering what to do with the money.
At least four union members have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the international leadership of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) of failing to fairly represent them.
They allege that IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger’s decision to force a vote on Jan. 3 made it difficult for thousands of union members were out of town during Boeing’s holiday break to vote.
There were only about 600 more votes to approve than reject the contract, so based simply on the numbers, it is possible that a few thousand more voters could have changed the outcome.
So, what to do with the bonus checks?
If you spend it, the vote is run again and the contract rejected, will you have to pay it back to Boeing?
No, the NLRB wouldn’t make people pay the money back, said Anne Pomerantz, a regional attorney with the agency’s Seattle office.
“We are a make-whole statute,” not a penalizing one, she said.
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org.