EVERETT — Some Boeing Machinists took to the streets outside the Everett factory Wednesday afternoon to demand a chance to vote on Boeing’s latest contract offer.
“I don’t care if it’s a yes or a no, I think we all need to vote on the latest contract,” said Machinist James Chrispherson. “It’s important to our futures.”
That’s why some Machinists took their message to the streets. Some don’t want the company to take the planned Boeing 777X production out of Washington state — and their jobs with it.
The Machinists are working under a labor contract, but Boeing wanted some concessions from the union in order to build the 777X in Washington.
Aviation expert Scott Hamilton said the aircraft giant has proven it’s willing to go somewhere else.
“If the union thinks Boeing is bluffing, that they won’t put that airplane somewhere else, they’re sniffing their own kerosene,” said Hamilton.
Boeing has said its last offer is still on the table, but union leaders said they turned down the deal because it’s too similar to the previous contract offer that members rejected overwhelmingly.
“We had a vote and we voted by two-thirds no,” said Machinist Kevin Flynn. “The idea that we’re going to keep having votes until somebody gets the vote they’d like is ridiculous.”
One of the biggest sticking point for Machinists is trading their pensions for 401k retirement accounts.
Boeing’s rival, France-based Airbus, has been meeting with state officials since January hoping to grow their supplier networks in Washington. That’s an opportunity Gov. Jay Inslee says he can’t ignore.
“Airbus has made clear to us that not only do they recognize this is a great place to make airplanes, but the fact that they do business in dollars creates, frankly, an incentive to look at our country to do some production facilities,” said Inslee. “We will be talking to them as appropriate.”
Other Machinists argue forcing a vote now is premature because their current contract doesn’t expire until 2016.
Aaron Powell said Boeing should be sharing the corporation’s record profits with their workers.
“It’s corporate threats, it’s corporate greed,” said Powell. “It was the middle-class standing up for ourselves. This isn’t just for Washington state, this is for every state.”
Boeing is looking at alternative sites for the 777X production line in more than 20 other states. The company says they’ll decide which one gets the plane and the jobs in January.