Machinists union rejects Boeing’s final contract offer

The Machinists union has rejected Boeing’s final contract proposal and has called for a strike.

Union leaders say that Boeing has “insulted, and frankly, made the workforce very angry.” The Machinists cited issues with job security, wages, health insurance and pension as reasons that their negotiators have recommended a strike. Union members will vote on Boeing’s contract on Sept. 3.

Additionally, the union says it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Boeing for “direct dealing” with its members.

Boeing presented its third and final contract proposal on Thursday. The company has said that is its final offer to Machinists. The two sides started negotiations months earlier than in years past in hopes of avoiding a work stoppage.

The Machinists said in a statement that the company failed to give the union assurances on job security event at a time when the company’s backlog has reached seven years’ worth of work.

Boeing “missed the mark” in regards to pension and did not meet union members needs, the Machinists said. Boeing dropped its proposal to eliminate pension for new workers and increased its monthly rate to $78 for each year served. The exisiting contract pays $70.

The Machinists said that the company’s record profits were not factored into the wage it offered. Boeing’s offer included an 11 percent wage increase over the life of the contract. The union, however, said it did not include the 40 cent cost of living adjustment generated for May, June and July.

Boeing leaders are “extremely disappointed” by the strike recommendation by the Machinists negotiators, said Jim Proulx, a company spokesman.

“We’ve worked very hard to listen to the union and its concerns going into this contract,” Proulx said.

The company offered “significant increases in pay and pension” and withdrew several requests — like eliminating early retiree medical benefits for new employees — from earlier proposals, he said. But Proulx reiterated that this is Boeing’s last offer.

“We hope our employees recognize the benefits of our best and final offer,” he said.

The Machinists will hold a press conference this afternoon.

The union covers more than 27,000 Boeing workers in three states. The call for a strike comes as Chicago-based Boeing tries to keep up with a backlog of plane orders and avoid more penalties caused by production delays of its next-generation passenger jet.

The Machinists last went on strike in 2005 for 28 days. The union needs for two-thirds of its members to reject Boeing’s offer and vote to strike in order for its members to walk out. A strike would begin at 12:01 a.m., Sept. 4.

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