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EVERETT — If Boeing machinists don’t vote yes on the latest contract offer, the 777X wing assembly line will leave our state, according to local political leaders.
Boeing executives initiated Monday morning’s meeting with local policy makers. Now the mayors of Everett, Renton, Kent, the Snohomish county executive and the Everett port commissioner are all urging machinists to vote yes.
“I think that this is the last chance,” said City of Everett mayor Ray Stephanson.
The group of politicians say the future of Boeing’s presence in the Puget Sound now rests directly in the hands of the union employees.
“There is no option here other than a yes on the contract,” said City of Kent mayor Suzette Cooke
It’s been a back-and-forth fight for the machinists. Their major sticking point continues to be Boeing’s plan to move from traditional pensions to 401-k retirement accounts.
That’s why local union leaders urge machinists to call Boeing’s bluff.
“Our best estimates is this is going to lower our members retirement income by 2/3rds,” said International Association of Machinists representative Bryan Corliss. “We are recommending our union members to reject.”
More than $100 billion worth of new 777X’S are already on order. Exactly where the aircraft will be constructed is up for grabs; Boeing is shopping around for locations in at least 20 states.
The six local politicians say the key for our economy is in the new high-tech, 777X wing design.
“The technology that will follow every airplane over the next several decades, and that’s why it’s so critically important to have the wing here because the wings speak to the future,” said Stephanson. “A positive vote on this contract will guarantee the wing will be produced in the State of Washington and the 777X will be assembled in the State of Washington.”
But local union leaders say Boeing could make a big mistake if the company decides to build the wings and aircraft somewhere else.
“All of the objective industry analysts, 3rd party research, says that Washington State, Puget Sound, is the best place for Boeing to build the 777X,” said Corliss. “It’s their best bet for success with this program.”
Boeing plans to build a 1.2 million square foot warehouse for the 777X, but local leaders worry the aerospace company won’t build it here if machinists reject the contract.
“We will lose the opportunity to not be engaged in what is this moment the future of all new jets, commercial or otherwise, in the future,” said former Snohomish county executive, Bob Drewel.
The local union leadership is still urging machinists to reject the 8-year contract offer when they vote on Friday, and they’re preparing for a march urging that no vote at their Seattle union hall on Thursday.
According to the Everett Herald, about 1,000 workers are expected to show up the day before the January 3rd vote.
Members overwhelmingly rejected Boeing’s initial offer in November citing its massive takeaways.
The company promises if approved, the 777X will be assembled in Everett.
“Recognizing that many of our members are on approved vacation and out of the area on the voting day of January 3rd, District 751 got the International President to grant authority to do a one-time absentee ballot process on a contract vote,” the International Association of Machinists District 751 said on its website. “We are currently developing an absentee ballot process for those out of the area who cannot make it to the polls on Jan. 3rd.
“We are still working on the details of that process. Please monitor this site for instructions on how to obtain an absentee ballot. These are extraordinary times and our goal is to ensure that every member gets an opportunity to vote,” the website notice said.
By a 2-to-1 margin, the Machinists rejected the last contract offer that Boeing said it would need in order to build the planned new airliner, the 777X, in Western Washington. The company recently submitted a revised contract offer to the union leadership, which rejected it as little different from the first. However, an outcry by some union members to vote on the proplosal led to the union leadership’s decision to allow a full membership vote.
The new vote is set for Jan. 3.
At current prices, the order has an estimated value of $7 billion, according to a news release.
Boeing had already received orders for a total of 259 777X planes worth about $95 billion. The company says the 777X had the largest launch of any commercial jetliner in history last month at the Dubai airshow.
Boeing plans to deliver its first 777X aircraft in 2020.
Cathay Pacific is currently the second largest operator of 777-300ER planes.
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.
EVERETT — Boeing told employees the company plans to narrow its list of potential 777X sites this week, the Seattle Times reported.
According to the Times, Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner sent a memo to employees stating the company had not withdrawn its offer to the Machinists union, but rather union leaders rejected the offer. Conner said Boeing was moving on in the selection process following that “disappointing outcome.”
The company said it has received proposals from 54 sites stretching across 22 states.
Washington state’s proposal includes a package of incentives including $8.7 billion in future tax benefits.
The Times reported a Boeing spokesperson declined to say whether Washington state is still being considered.
EVERETT — The head of the local Machinists union said Monday that calls from some Boeing workers asking why they cannot vote on the company’s latest offer that would persuade the company to build the 777X in Washington state has a simple answer. “There is no offer to vote.”
“Boeing’s offer was only on the table Thursday so long as I agreed to recommend the offer and urge you to vote yes on it. But I could not recommend you accept this offer. When I said we couldn’t do that, Boeing withdrew the offer immediately,” union president Tom Worblewski said in a letter to union members at Boeing. “So there is no offer to vote.
“As union leaders, we couldn’t go onto the shop floor to ask you to accept this proposal. Despite what Boeing is saying, the offer was almost identical to the one you rejected by a 2-to-1 margin on Nov. 13,” he wrote.
“In the four-page document they passed to us Thursday afternoon, we could only identify four changes from the Nov. 13 offer, and they weren’t significant:
· Boeing sweetened the pot with an additional $5,000 lump-sum bonus –payable in 2020. It is not a $15,000 bonus now, it is still a $10,000 bonus now.
· Boeing increased annual maximum dental coverage – by $500 per person in 2020, and by another $500 per person in 2024.
· Boeing promised to extend the Letter of Understanding that guarantees we will keep doing 737 MAX work until 2024 – but passed no contract language on it, leaving us uncertain of how solid that guarantee was.
· Boeing agreed to back down from its plan to keep new hires in progression for up to 22 years, and to go back to the current system that gets new hires to the maximum rate in six years. Their proposal also called for a ‘joint evaluation’ of the progression system.
“Every other item was EXACTLY THE SAME as the offer you rejected Nov. 13,” he wrote.
“I think you’ll agree these were very minor changes, and not nearly enough to offset the things Boeing was trying to take away from you, and for the Machinists who will join us in the future:
· Freezing your pensions, eliminating them for new Machinists and replacing them with a ‘savings plan’ so vague we couldn’t tell you anything about how it would work.
· Raising everyone’s health care contributions by as much as $4,000 a year over 2011 levels by the end of the contract.
· Limiting future wage increases to 1 percent every other year, and locking in current starting pay rates until 2024, when thousands of Boeing jobs would be below minimum wage.
“Given that you had voted so overwhelmingly against an almost identical proposal on Nov. 13, I didn’t see any point in bringing it to you for a vote, and our Business Reps agreed with me.
“So, until Boeing changes its conditions, we don’t have an offer to vote on.
“I’m sorry that there has been confusion over this issue, especially by the reported comments of the retired leader from our International headquarters, who seems to be suggesting there’s still an offer hiding out there somewhere, just waiting for you to vote on. I understand that many of you are frustrated, and I don’t blame you.
I simply ask that you work together with me as we continue to make the case that Boeing’s best chance for success – by far – is to build the 777X here inWashington state, utilizing the skills, experience and dedication of the finest aerospace workers in the world: the Machinists of District 751.
Boeing is reviewing bids from 22 states hoping to land the 777X. A final decision is expected in January. Meantime, the company announced plans to expand operations at its South Carolina plant.
In addition, Boeing announced a $10 billion stock buyback program on Monday. The move raised the company’s quarterly dividend by 50 percent.
Boeing says their latest offer is still on the table, but union officials say it’s not.
Just days after talks stalled between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists, several workers pleaded for another chance to cast a ballot on Boeing’s latest contract offer.
“Both the union and Boeing could have done it better. They both messed up on that but let’s get the vote out now, work on the little things later,” says machinist Rob LaJudice.
“We don’t know who to believe,” says machinist Paul Fritzler. “The best bet is to give the machinists the information, put it to a vote, let us decide.”
“We want the ability to vote. We don’t want union executives choosing for us. We want to make our own choice. They’re there to represent us not choose for us,” says machinist Adam Subitch.
Last month, machinists overwhelmingly rejected Boeing’s 8-year contract extension by a 2 to 1 margin.
The aerospace company wants employees to contribute more money to health care plans and it wants new employees to pay into a retirement plan instead of a traditional pension.
But since union officials rejected Boeing’s latest offer last Thursday, some machinists say confusion is ruling the factory floor.
“My gut feeling is if we’re not allowed to vote of if it is a no vote that Boeing will pull the 777X out of Washington,” says Fritzler.
Boeing is looking at more than 50 locations in 21 other states as options for the 777x production line. That reality is setting in for some workers.
“I could see that happening, I could see them moving somewhere. They could hit some bump in the roads like they did in South Carolina but it’s a learning curve with the employees down there. Soon enough, within five years, South Carolina is going to be in tip-top shape,” says LaJudice.
Without a chance for rank-and-file employees to cast their ballot this time, some worry that Boeing will pack up and ship out of Everett for good.
“We’re going to become another Detroit,” says Fritzler.
Boeing says there aren’t yet any new scheduled negotiations.
But political leaders in Snohomish county and Olympia are urging union leaders to let the machinists cast their vote.