Boeing Machinists reject contract offer tied to 777X; Inslee vows state to still compete for plane

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SEATTLE — By a 2-to-1 margin, 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.

Sixty-seven percent of those 31,000 union members in the region voted no on the proposed contract extension, the union announced Wednesday night.

boeing2There will be no strike, because the workers’ current contract does not expire until 2016, but the big question now is whether Boeing will seek to assemble the 777X in another state.

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.”

He added, “We could have won this tonight without any competition (but) that didn’t happen.”

Tom Wroblewski, spokesman for the International  Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751, issued the following statement:

“Today, the democratic process worked and our members made the decision to not accept the company’s proposal. It is my belief that we represent the best aerospace workforce in the world and hope that as a result of this vote Boeing will not discard our skills when looking to place the 777X.

“We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal. We’ve held on to our pensions and that’s big. At a time when financial planners are talking about a ‘retirement crisis’ in America, we have preserved a tool that will help our members retire with more comfort and dignity.”

As workers were casting votes Wednesday afternoon, one of the 31,000 Machinists union members in the region, Randy McFadden, said at the union hall voting site: “Boeing is asking us to get rid of all the things we worked 20 years for — flush it down, just so they can make more money.”

Another worker called Boeing’s offer “an extortion, a take-it-or-leave-it thing. I’m not going for it.”

Camy Badr, the owner of   Good Guys Pizza near the Boeing plant in Everett, said he’s worried about what might happen if Boeing lives up to that threat to move business elsewhere.

“During the last strike, business dropped 30 percent,” Badr said. “The economy is just picking up and I depend on Boeing workers a lot.”

Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said  losing the 777X work and thousands of jobs to another state would be devastating.

“We are talking about an economy that is very fragile right now,” Lovick said. “And the fact that we would be taking those jobs out of this region, it would be huge to Snohomish County.”

On Monday, Inslee signed a bill into law that gives billions in tax breaks for Boeing — a move to sweeten the deal for the company to produce the 777X here.

The production of this new, efficient aircraft would secure at least 56,000 jobs and more than two decades of work, analysts have projected.

Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., issued this statement following the union’s vote:

“I believe Washington is still the best place to build the 777X, but the hill just got steeper. We now need to be prepared for an intense competition with other states and countries that want these jobs.”

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  • Rich C

    I say get rid of all the people that vote no or just move the production to another state. Nothing worse than a greedy union worker.

  • jeff

    The employees who are members of the machinist's union have a choice don't they? Boeing also has a choice, and that's moving to save their profit margin. Boeing is here to make planes, the employees are here to produce those airplanes. Who is going to do what? Detroit, here we come is that the choice on the table? Why is Governor Inslee giving Boeing a huge tax incentive, at the same time he wants to raise the gas taxes on you and me. Washington state needs some economic psycho therapy.

    • Ralph

      They are making lots of profit and the stock keeps going higher.

      Recent studies show the difference between management compensation and the actual workers is pretty extreme. Some CEOs make 300 times what the employees make. I'd say the Boeing top dogs are overpaid greedy clowns and the workers have the right to better compensation.

      Jeff maybe you'd better move to the slave states if that suits your narrow minded style.

  • BillieS

    This is the most detrimental economic vote in recent Wash. St. history. Boeing will leave. Skilled labor? Yes, it's here, but it's also trainable. Once Boeing is gone, who's supporting the18k direct employees? The supporting companies? Eventually gone too. The long term repercussions of this will be lasting. I sssoooooo hope I am wrong and Boeing is bluffing like a pro at a card table…..

  • Profitable Worker

    You ARM CHAIR QUARTER BACK's don't know what you are talking about. Until you know all the concessions Boeing was asking for, get real. Was this a terrible decision, YES! Either way it was. Just keep in mind: WE didn't come up with this deal spur of the moment, MID CONTRACT! WE didn't give BOEING 1 FRICKIN' WEEK TO DECIDE NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS. You people are so high on your horse, because you don't know what it's like to FIGHT FOR SOMETHING. Look at Boeing's Stock Price and Profit. YOU THINK THAT MAGICALLY FRICKIN' APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE? WE BUILD A+ AIRCRAFT and THAT is why Boeing makes its sales. Because WE care about the Quality of our Product.
    You know not what you speak of. Boeing made a lot of half truth promises and empty promises. They speak with a forked tongue. Boeing South Carolina? They are currently producing .75 aircraft per month! How could Boeing work through a backlog of 1000 aircraft that way? it would take them 1333 months to sell all of their 787 orders this way! You people need to grow a back bone. We were being bullied into making a hasty decision with 1 week to debate it. THAT IS NOT EVEN A FAIR CHANCE. Boeing wanted to RUSH this decision. Shut your freaking mouth.

    • Travis

      Dont get mad at "us". You union stooges just voted to send your work out of state. You and the burger flippers wanting crazy wages can hang out togeather at the unemployment office.

      • Steve Firth

        Hey moron, this vote was forced and it had nothing to do with wanting higher wages even though the company executives making $22 million per year just gave themselves a 55% wage increase. They are employees too and they need a reality check! Contrary to what is said in the media, there never was any negotiations between Boeing and the union.
        If you had accrued a pension over a period of 20 years more and then the company was going to drop it and your pension was no longer safe, you would vote no too unless you are brain dead. Aside from the top rank and file making fortunes, the regular workers are not. We are middle class and make decent money and that is what most Americans want.

  • worker

    if washington becomes a right to work state, and the 15 dollar an hour for service workers at Sea Tac goes thru, the service workers will be the highest paid employees in the state, out side of government jobs

  • Determined Father

    Washington state is a male bashing entity that allows women to destroy families and alienate fathers. Washington is not a place known for gender equality or a father being treated as an equal.

    That being said, I hope Boeing never gives the state of Washington another shot at a contract. Move the work to the south. There is less rain and people actually want to go to work. The last strike happened right when the recession put our country in a choke hold. Did the union care? No.

    Boeing if you are listening please move south. In fact since we are a global economy why not let the Japanese build the wings? They seem more concerned with production than the union is.

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