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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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SEATTLE — The president of the local Machinists union responded to questioning and scrutiny from union members Friday, a day after union officials decided to pass on a contract proposal from Boeing without even bringing the contract to a vote among full membership.

Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinsts Union Distrcit Lodge 751, said on his Facebook page that he received “several hundred” emails from union members overnight asking why the union could not take a vote on the latest contract proposal from Boeing.

Wroblewski said the contract was no longer on the table and could not be up for a vote, as it was rescinded after he and leadership brass declined to support the contract and ask union members to vote “yes.”

“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,” Wroblewski said in a letter to union membership posted on his Facebook page Friday. “But I could not recommend you accept this offer. When I said we couldn’t do that, Boeing withdrew the offer immediately.”

Wroblewski said, despite reports of improvements, the offer was “almost identical” to the one rejected by a 2-to-1 margin by union members on Nov. 13. Since that rejection vote, Boeing’s future in Washington state has been very much up in the air, with as many as 22 other states have made a bid for work on the 777X, officials said. Boeing is reviewing more than 50 possible site locations to build and finish the next generation airplane, all of them outside of Washington state.


Union president Tom Wroblewski

According to Wroblewski, union officials could only identify four changes in the latest contract proposal over the Nov. 13 offer. The changes included $5,000 lump-sum bonus payable in 2020., increased dental coverage in 2020, and agreed to the current system of new hire progression. Other than that, the contract was exactly the same, Wroblewski said.

“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,” Wroblewski said.

It is unclear if Boeing and machinists will continue to negotiate, or, as Boeing said, that contract offer was final.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Below is the full text of Wroblewski’s letter to union members:

Dear Brothers and Sisters

Several hundred of our 30,000 members at Boeing e-mailed me overnight to ask why you can’t vote on the company’s most-recent contract offer. The answer is simple:

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.

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.

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.

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 in Washington state, utilizing the skills, experience and dedication of the finest aerospace workers in the world: the Machinists of District 751.

In solidarity

Tom W.

EVERETT — On Thursday, Machinists union officials rejected the latest contract offer from Boeing to build the 777X, increasing uncertainty surrounding the aerospace giant’s future in the region.

Boeing officials said they presented a  counter offer to machinists in the face of the union’s offer Wednesday. The latest Boeing offer is 8-year contract extension that would have topped the previous $10,000 signing bonus, Boeing officials said, and increased workers’ dental benefits. Furthermore, the offer kept in place the current rate at which Boeing employees reach the top pay scale.

The offer, called the “best and final counter proposal” by Boeing officials, was promptly rejected by union leaders. The offer would have extended Boeing’s work int he Puget Sound through 2024.

Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner said the latest contract was significant, and more than fair to Boeing employees.

“We’ve listened to the union leadership and had an open dialogue in hopes of moving toward each other,” Conner said. “Unfortunately the offer, which would have ensured this great airplane for the Puget Sound region, was immediately rejected by the union leadership.

It was unclear Thursday whether or not any negotiations between the two sides would continue. Boeing is currently evaluating as many as 22 different states and 54 sites as possible places to build the 777X, and officials have said they received an “overwhelmingly strong response,” from other areas interested in the aircraft.

Gov. Jay Inslee said he still hopes the Machinists and Boeing could work out a deal.

“I still hope that the company will recognize that the best way to ensure that the 777X is delivered to its customers on time and at the least cost is to build it here,” Inslee said in a release.

BoeingNew orders for the aircraft already topping $100 billion.

Despite competition, some say moving the production line out of Washington doesn’t make sense.

“The industrial logic says build it here, the economic logic says build it here, the skill set says build it here,” said Scott Hamilton, aviation expert.

Hamilton says Boeing’s massive plant and workforce in Everett is key to our region’s economy – and also to the aerospace giant’s future.

“You need to have that skill set, that mature factory, that institutional knowledge to build it here so that you don’t disappoint your customers again like you did on the 747 and the 787 programs,” added Hamilton.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) rejected Boeing’s last contract offer by a 2-1 margin back in November. The 8-year-contract asked machinists to contribute more to health care premiums, eliminated new pensions, and slowed down the rate of raises for new hires.

Washington State lawmakers secured more than $9 billion in tax incentives to keep the aircraft-maker here in Washington, but we weren’t alone. Job-starved states across the country started making their own proposals to Boeing, too.

Hamilton says with a deal this big, negotiations are continuing at the highest levels.

“I fully expected there would be great political pressure by the state congressional delegation, the Governor, Snohomish County, even stakeholders telling the (IAM) and Boeing to get back to the bargaining table,” said Hamilton.

In another blow from Boeing on Thursday, the company announced it is adding more than 1000 research and development jobs to states in Deep South and the Midwest. Those jobs are moving to some states which are also trying to lure away the 777x production line.

boeingCHICAGO — Boeing announced a realignment of its Research and Technology Centers that will likely result in 800-1200 jobs moving out of Washington state. Several hundred jobs in California are also moving to the South and Midwest.

The company will operate research centers in five locations including Seattle; Huntsville, Alabama; St. Louis; Southern California; and North Charleston, South Carolina.

Several of those cities are competing with Everett trying to land the 777X contract.

A Boeing spokesperson said the restructuring has been in the works for a long time and is unrelated to the new airplane.

777xEVERETT — Negotiations are entering their third day as union leaders representing thousands of Boeing machinists have proposed a contract extension to Boeing that would lead to the manufacture of the Boeing 777X here in Washington. Boeing planned to announce its decision on that offer Thursday.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union.

Despite the contract on the table, Wrobelewski said the two sides are still far apart in the negotiation process.

Union members are reacting to the news.

“That is good news,” Boeing Machinist David Snell said. “At least they’re at the tables and talking and they believe that we can do the jobs better than any place else in the nation.”

Details of the proposal have not been released. The most contentious issues in last month’s Boeing contract proposal were worker’s pensions and healthcare. Union members rejected Boeing’s previous proposal by a 2-to-1 margin.

SEATTLE — After two days of negotiations, the Machinists union presented a preliminary contract proposal to Boeing officials that would secure a work contract in Washington state.

According to International Association of Machinists Lodge 751 officials, the union offered the proposal for 777X wing fabrication and final assembly work in the Puget Sound during 777xmeetings in Wednesday afternoon Renton.

Union local president Tom Wroblewski said talks between the union and Boeing officials, which had been going on for two days, were “respectful and constructive,” but he said the two sides were not close to an agreement.

The union did not disclose any terms of the deal. Wroblewski said he expects Boeing to respond to the offer Thursday.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state,” Wroblewski said.

The union said if the offer is rejected, it will continue to make the case that Boeing should build the 777X in Washington.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Local News

Boeing, Machinists meet again to negotiate 777X deal

777xRENTON — Boeing officials and Machinists union leaders met for the second day in a row Wednesday, the Seattle Times reported, with some sources saying a contract agreement between the two sides could come as early as Christmas.

According to the Times, the two sides again met at the Longacres Headquarters of the Commercial Airplanes division to discuss a contract agreement that would keep work on the Boeing 777X in Washington state.

Previously, Boeing officials had said they would not meet with union members until the current contract was up in 2016. Outlooks for construction of the Boeing 777X in Washington looked dim after the Machinists union voted down a contract renewal on Nov. 13, opening the floodgates for other states to offer incentives to Boeing in an effort to lure jobs.

A note was sent out by the International Association of Machinists District 751 President Tom Wroblewski Wednesday, saying the goal of the two sides was to secure the Puget Sound as the site for 777X fabrication and final assembly. Union members are expected to be updated later Wednesday, the union said.

Details of a potential contract have not yet been released.

Local News

Report: Union reps met with Boeing chief in Renton

RENTON — Boeing Commercial Airplanes Executive Ray Conner met with Machinists union officials Tuesday in Renton, presumably in an effort to come to a contract agreement, the Seattle Times reported.

According to the Times, Conner met with International Association of Machinists District 751 members at the Commercial Airplanes headquarters in Renton. The meeting was described as “congenial,” the Times reported, showing hope that a deal between labor and Boeing management to construct the Boeing 777X in Washington could still be reached.

Boeing: Machinists Union LatestPreviously, Boeing officials had said they would not meet with union members until the current contract was up in 2016.

The director of Gov. Jay Inslee’s aerospace office, Alex Pietsch, said he could not independently confirm the meeting, but that he had heard reports and believed they were promising.

“Clearly the company is interested in a long-term agreement with the machinists union, and if these conversations are the start down a path where we can make that happen, that would be a great thing for Washington,” Pietsch said.

Gov. Inslee has met multiple times with Boeing leaders since the union voted to decline a new contract that would guarantee 777X construction in Washington state until 2024. Inslee led the charge to pass $8.4 million in tax incentives for Boeing in a special session earlier this year.

Boeing said previously it will not make a decision on where to build the 777X until mid-January. States around the country have tried to woo the aerospace giant in recent weeks, convening special legislative sessions to offer tax breaks for a job that would bring thousands of jobs to an area.

Eight union members marched in Everett Tuesday to encourage talks to restart between Boeing and the union. The Times reported the union members in Everett didn’t know of the meeting, but did see it as positive.

Manufacturing of the 777X could guarantee close to 8,500 high-paying jobs, the Times reported.

Local News

Last chance for states to put in bid for 777X contract

777xSEATTLE — States interested in landing Boeing’s 777X contract have until Tuesday to submit their bids.

More than a dozen states are fighting for the chance to build the new jet.

Texas, Georgia and Washington are top contenders but California, Alabama and Missouri are also being considered, according to the Everett Herald.

Many analysts still believe Everett is the best fit for 777X production. Boeing plans to make a decision in early 2014.


Boeing 777X

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Legislature on Friday passed and sent the governor a bill offering Boeing incentives of up to $1.7 billion over 23 years to produce its planned 777X commercial airliner in the state, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The newspaper added that St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had called a special meeting of the County Council on Monday night to approve a resolution of support for a local Boeing incentives package. No amount has been set for that possible package yet.

Gov. Jay Nixon called the Legislature into special session last Monday to consider the state package. Boeing asked about a dozen states to submit bids for the plant by next Tuesday.

Nixon is expected to sign the bill quickly, the Post-Dispatch said.

In a statement issued after the vote, Nixon said: “I greatly appreciate the General Assembly’s work to send a bill to my desk in a timely manner so that we may submit a competitive proposal to Boeing on the aggressive timetable the company has set.

“Just as we worked together in a special session in 2010 to revitalize our auto industry and attract historic investments from Ford and GM, Missouri has once again demonstrated to the world that when it comes to creating good jobs for Missouri families, we compete and we compete to win,” the governor said.

It’s estimated that up to 8,700 jobs would be created if St. Louis were to win the full assembly line.