EVERETT — Boeing said it has no plans to go back to the bargaining table or offer up another contract proposal to the Machinists union until the current contract expires in 2016, officials said Thursday.
“As of today, we’re actively exploring all options,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said of the company’s plans to build the new 777X. “All options are back on the table.”
Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, said that’s no surprise, but neither was the no vote from Machinists union members.
“When a vote comes down that overwhelmingly low, you just know it’s not a reasonable proposal,” Johnson said. “It is an over-reach.”
By a 2-to-1 margin, 31,000 machinists union members in the Puget Sound region Wednesday rejected Boeing’s proposed eight-year contract extension that would have cut pension and other benefits in exchange for Boeing’s commitment to build the planned 777X airliner and its advanced-technology wing in Washington state.
Perhaps the biggest sticking point was wage progression. Currently, after six years, Machinists hit the max, $34 an hour. Under the new plan, it would take 16 years to get there. Employees say that would create two classes of workers.
“That`s just an insult,” said Hazel Powers, who has worked for Boeing for 35 years. “They`re taking away the integrity, everything the union members ahead of us fought for.”
Voting down the contract offer, however, also may jeopardize the 777X project in Everett, and could jeopardize the future of Boeing jobs in the state.
“It comes down to jobs or no jobs, or, as I like to put it, it`s better to have 50% of something than 100% of nothing,” said Scott Hamilton, an aviation expert.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said after the vote: “We are very disappointed in the outcome of the union vote … But without the terms of this contract extension, we’re left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X.”
At a news conference in Olympia after the vote, Gov. Jay Inslee said Boeing told him the company would consider “multiple sites, including Washington” for the assembly of the new airliner and that he wasn’t about to give up in trying to gain the 777X production in the state.
“We intend to be competitive in the weeks to come,” Inslee said. “We know how to compete in the state of Washington.”