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Boeing employs more than 170,000 people in the U.S. and in 70 countries. The company has a large aerospace manufacturing plant in Everett, Wash.

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Boeing: Machinists Union Latest

EVERETT — The Boeing Company is planning to move 1,000 of its engineering jobs normally centered in Everett, Wash. to Southern California, the company announced Thursday.

The jobs will transfer from the Puget Sound area to Southern California by the end of 2015, officials said. Most of the engineers slated to move provide flying and technical support for the planes.

They will likely move to Long Beach, Boeing officials said in a release, to create a single location for “customer support.”

“We’re creating a single location for customer support at the Southern California design center to ensure that we are well-positioned to support Boeing airplanes in service around the world as the market contineus to gore,” said Lynne Thompson, vice president of Customer Support with the commercial Aviation Services.

In May 2013, Boeing established engineering design centers in South Carolina, Southern California and Washington state. The Southern California Engineering Design Center currently employs about 1,800 people at the company’s Long Beach and Seal Beach sites

Relocation help will be offered to affected Puget Sound employees who accept positions in Southern California.. Further job losses in the administrative sector of Boeing could follow as a trickle down consequence of the move, the Seattle Times reported.

Boeing currently has about 1,600 engineers in the customer support group, with a majority of them operating in two office towers in Tukwila and Everett.

The move has been rumored for many months, and is the most significant in a series of recent engineering job shifts.

The engineering union, SPEEA, is not happy about the move, aviation expert Scott Hamilton said, but it is unknown if the union will protest it.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.



Jon Holden, 41, was elected president of the International Association of Machinists union District 751 on Thursday, March 6, 2014. (Photo courtesy of IAM 751)

SEATTLE — Jon Holden, 41, a Bothell native, on Thursday was elected the new president and directing business representative of Machinists Union District 751.

Voting results were as follows:

Jon Holden                             2,163

John “Shop Floor” Lopez  Jr.  540

Roy Wilkinson                            142

Holden assumed the duties of district president immediately and was sworn in by District Secretary-Treasurer Susan Palmer. He succeeds Tom Wroblewski, who retired Jan. 31 citing health reasons. Wroblewski served nearly seven years as leader of the 32,000-member union.

Holden vowed to “do a much better job of listening and reflecting the will of the membership.”  Holden also promised to be more aggressive in enforcing the union’s contracts with Boeing and other employers, and to provide more training and mentoring to union stewards.

“We can and should be pushing the contract enforcement envelope,” he said.

According to the union, Holden started at Boeing’s Everett plant as a parts and tooling expeditor 17 years ago. He has served as a business representative for District 751 for the past seven years, where he represented more than 2,500 workers on Boeing’s 747 assembly line in Everett. He resigned his business rep job and returned to the shop floor at Boeing in order to qualify under District 751 bylaws to run in the election.

Outside Boeing, Holden also played a key role over the past three years helping workers at three Whidbey Island Naval Air Station defense contactors to form union bargaining units, then negotiate and enforce their first contracts.

His experience earned him the support of a number of key figures within the union, including Wilson Ferguson, the president of Local Lodge 751-A, which is the largest local lodge within the ntire IAM, with more than 18,000 members.

“Jon has experience dealing with Boeing, and our International,” Ferguson said. “He’s run unionizing campaigns and negotiated contracts and has a much deeper understanding of our current Boeing contract than any of the other candidates.”

Holden acknowledged a lot of members are angry after the recent approval of a new contract with Boeing that included givebacks in order to assure the new Boeing 777X would be built in the area. He asked District 751 members to pull together for a better future.

“No matter how any member voted on the recent Boeing contract ultimatum, nobody can be happy about it,” he said. “The divisive events of the last few months demand that our union come together in unity and collective purpose like never before. My role is to channel that anger to rebuild the District. If we do that, we can make Boeing and our other employers better places to work, and all our communities better places to live.”

EVERETT — Snohomish County is getting even more work from Boeing. The company announced it will build the wings for the new 777X in Everett.

“We didn’t win one Super Bowl this year, we won two,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at Tuesday’s announcement that billions will be invested in the area, creating work for thousands on the high-tech carbon, composite wings.


EVERETT — As Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., looks on, Gov. Jay Inlsee says the state of Washington won two Super Bowls this year — with Boeing’s decision to build the 777X wings here being one of those victories. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

They will be the largest airplane wings in the world, and the work will be done in a 1 million square-foot complex next to the plant where the planes’ bodies will be constructed.

Aviation expert John Nance believes it could also make Washington the focal point of this new technology.

“The fabrication of this, considering it is fiber and not metal, is going to be, more or less, a creation of a world center,” said Nance. “So it won’t be just a center wing box section for the 777X, and it will go beyond that over time.”

Machinist union members at Boeing initially voted down the contract the company wanted to build the 777X in Washington, citing too many concessions in their pensions and pay. A re-vote, however, narrowly approved the deal last month. But there are still hard feelings on both sides.

“When you have the membership split on a vote like that, it takes time,” said Mark Johnson, a union leader. “We’ve had many other issues in the past, coming back from strikes and so forth, so I believe it`s just a matter of time.”

Ray Conner, Boeing’s CEO, said time is now on the company’s side. The decision to expand means Boeing will keep its roots in the Northwest for years, even decades to come.

“This isn’t a 20-year decision, this is a 50-year decision,” said Conner. “When we make a decision, we`re going to build something here, we`re going to be here.”

Construction on the new complex will begin later this year, and the first 777X will be rolled out in 2020.


SEATTLE — GE Capital Aviation Services, a commercial aircraft leasing company, ordered 40 Boeing 737s valued at $3.9 billion at list prices, GECAS and Boeing announced Monday.

BThe order consists of 20 737 MAX 8s and 20 Next-Generation 737-800s.

“We ordered more 737 MAX 8s and Next-Generation 737-800s because demand continues to grow as our airline customers require more fuel-efficient aircraft to compete in the marketplace,” said Norman C.T. Liu, president and chief executive officer of GECAS. “This order further strengthens the large GECAS order book.”

GECAS, the U.S. and Irish commercial aircraft financing and leasing business of GE, has a fleet of more than 1,630 owned and serviced aircraft with over 230 airlines.

SEATTLE — Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 who was involved in the recent Boeing contract fight, will retire at the end of this month, the union announced Tuesday night.

According to a union news release, Wroblewski cited health concerns as he made the announcement to the union’s District Council Tuesday night. His last day will be Jan. 31.

wroblewski1Wroblewski said the stress of the past three months — as he stood up to pressure from the Boeing Co., politicians and his own union’s International leadership over the recently ratified 777X proposal – has put him in the hospital twice since Dec. 27.  His recommendation that the union members reject the Boeing contract offer was not taken, as the contract was ratified by 51% of union members who voted.

The experience “changed my perspective on work-life balance,” Wroblewski said. “Your job should not destroy your health.”

Wroblewski served as District 751’s president and directing business representative since March 2007. He was re-elected in 2008, and again in 2012.

Local News

Battery smoke grounds Boeing 787 in Japan


SEATTLE — Nearly nine months after it returned to the sky and its battery system was declared safe, new reports surfaced Tuesday of smoke aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

The incident “appears to have involved the venting of a single battery cell,” aboard a Japan Airlines 787, Boeing told CNN in a statement. A year ago, overheated batteries aboard two Dreamliners prompted aviation officials to ground all 50 of the planes worldwide.

Tuesday’s incident “occurred during scheduled maintenance activities with no passengers on board,” the Boeing statement said. “The improvements made to the 787 battery system last year appear to have worked as designed.” Boeing said it was working with Japan Airlines to return the plane to service.

Boeing’s stake in the Dreamliner is huge. Hundreds of millions of dollars are riding on the success of the 787, which represents a new generation of lighter, more efficient money making planes.

When it began service in 2011, the Dreamliner boasted a new battery system that used new, lighter lithium-ion batteries. After the planes were grounded, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration collaborated on a new battery compartment. The compartment was designed to insulate the batteries in a ventilated armor-plated box to protect the rest of the plane in case of a fire caused by overheating batteries. The NTSB announced this month it plans to issue a final investigation report later this fall.

U.S. aviation investigators — the National Transportation Safety Board — told CNN it is aware of Tuesday’s battery incident in Japan. A spokesman said the Japanese Transportation Safety Board “is determining whether they are going to open an investigation into it. If they do, we would be participating.”

In July 2013, investigators blamed a fire aboard an empty Ethiopian Airlines 787 parked at London’s Heathrow airport on a malfunctioning emergency beacon.

Tuesday’s incident comes nearly two months after Boeing warned airlines about another 787 concern: possible icing problems in its GE engines.

The aircraft manufacturer alerted 787 operators after instances of “ice crystal icing that resulted in temporary diminished engine performance,” Boeing said in a statement.

Although it said only a small number of the engines have experienced the ice problems, Boeing advised pilots to keep planes at least 50 nautical miles from storms that may contain ice crystals until General Electric can make improvements to the “GEnx” engines.

The Dreamliner’s development was marked by production delays and other problems. Then, a year ago this month, batteries were blamed for two overheating instances on a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston and on an All Nippon Airways 787 in Japan. No one was hurt in either case, but concerns about the incidents spurred the FAA to ground all U.S. Dreamliners. Officials around the world followed suit.

Experts say every airliner experiences “teething pains” during its first few years of service, as minor problems are shaken out. But the FAA’s decision to ground the Dreamliner put it under intense scrutiny.

United Airlines is the lone U.S. operator of Boeing 787s.

Last July, in an apparent show of confidence, United announced it was ordering 20 new 787-10 models, which are a longer version of the plane.

From CNN 

EVERETT — An Everett-based machinist announced Thursday he plans to run against incumbents in an upcoming national union election.

777xAccording to the Seattle Times, Jason Redrup will run on the ticket of a small group challenging leadership based in Washington, D.C.

Redrup told the Times he is running because he believes national leaders forced the 777X contract vote against the wishes of local union officials.

If the group makes the ballot, it would be the first contested election for the International Association of Machinists in more than 50 years, the Times reported.

Boeing announced it will be sending out $10,000 bonus checks to its nearly 31,000 machinist union members in the last week of January. It’s a result of the January 3rd contract extension passed by union members that keeps Boeing 777X airliner production in Washington state.

SEATTLE — Boeing will begin sending out $10,000 bonus checks to its nearly 31,000 Machinist union members during the week ending Jan. 25, as a result of the Jan. 3 ratification of the labor contract extension to assure production of the 777X airliner in the Puget Sound region, the union said Wednesday.

The bonuses were part of the contract proposal offered by Boeing.

boeing“I have today confirmed that the $10,000 signing bonus checks will be distributed to members on the week ending January 25, 2014,” said International Association of Machinists official Mark Johnson on the union’s local website. “This payout represents the first portion of the two-part $15,000 signing bonus contained in the contact extension that was ratified January 3, 2014. An additional bonus payment of $5,000 will be distributed in January 2020.”

Tax will be withheld from the checks, meaning most of the workers will be getting a post-tax check of about $7,000.

SEATTLE — On Tuesday night, Boeing union members attending a regularly scheduled lodge meeting of the International Association of Machinists Local 751-E adopted two resolutions aimed at addressing what the members call a contract voting process that was improper and unfair.

“The vote (date) was announced on the Saturday before Christmas.  It was held on the Friday after New Year’s. Thousands of our members weren’t able to vote.  In fact, we estimate about 25% of our total membership wasn’t able to vote on that day,” union spokesman Bryan Corliss said.

If accurate, that 25 percent — or roughly 8,000 members — might be more than enough to change the outcome, considering the contract extension passed by only a few hundred votes. boeing

“Given that the margin between the accept and reject votes was so slim, having thousands and thousands of people not able to vote, they feel, affected the outcome,” Corlisss said.

The timing of the vote was decided by the union’s international president instead of local leaders and it will be the international president who will decide whether there is a recount or a revote.

Regardless, there is a rift within the union.

“We have not made any decisions as to the merits of this case. At this point, this is the very initial stages.  We are just investigating them now,” National Labor Relations Board attorney Anne Pomerantz said.

The rift is so bad that four union members filed complaints with the NLRB — an independent regulatory agency charged with investigating charges of unfair labor practices.

“The gist of the four of them is that the vote was improperly held because of the timing of the vote,” Pomerantz said.

The vote was held last Friday, during the holidays, while many workers were off work, on vacation, or otherwise unreachable because, one member said, not everyone’s email address was on file with the union.

Putting the vote off just a couple of weeks, they say, would have made all the difference and may have changed the outcome.

“Essentially disenfranchisement, how the proposals were presented, the dichotomy between the International’s position and the district lodge’s position,” Pomerantz said.

The NLRB investigation is just getting under way and could take a few months to complete.

As for the resolutions passed Tuesday night, the same man who set the voting date in the first place, the international president, is the same man who will decide whether a recount or revote should be held.

No word on when that decision will be made.