Members Reject Contract Offer; Walkout Delayed 48 Hours
By an overwhelming majority, employees represented by the
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have
rejected the "best and final" contract offer from Boeing, and voted
Wednesday to strike the American planemaker immediately. But union
leaders told workers to stay on the job a little longer, in the
hopes Boeing may find some new incentives to offer.
Reuters reports a large percentage of the 27,000 IAM-represented
workers at Boeing's plants in Washington, Kansas and Pennsylvania
voted to reject the contract offer, with 87 percent then casting
their votes to strike at midnight Wednesday.
Those workers were then somewhat surprised, however, to learn
IAM leaders had called for that walkout to be postponed for 48
hours, while they meet with Boeing representatives one last time in
hopes to avert a walkout.
"We offered employees the best package of pay and benefits in
the aerospace industry," said Doug Kight, Boeing's VP of Human
Resources and lead negotiator, in a statement released early
Thursday morning. He added the Federal Mediation & Conciliation
Service asked both sides to meet at a neutral location immediately,
"to explore whether an agreement can be reached."
IAM workers, who have been preparing to strike for several
months, expressed doubts such an agreement could be reached.
"There's an awful lot of unhappy people. I don't see a lot
happening in the factory in the next couple of days," said Hans
Ulfstein, a structural research mechanic at Boeing's widebody
manufacturing plant in Everett, WA. "They better have a good
screaming offer. If they don't, it's going to be a pretty long and
As ANN reported, Boeing offered what it called
its "best and final" contract offer last week. That deal included
five percent pay increases for the first year of the three-year
contract, with 3 percent raises in each of the remaining years.
Along with new benefits and incentives, the new contract would
result in about $34,000 in added wages for the average worker over
the term of the contract, according to Boeing.
Boeing also made concessions on some earlier proposals,
including stripping provisions the union said would penalize
new-hires. Still, union leaders recommended IAM members vote to
reject the contract within hours after Boeing submitted it August
28... saying Boeing didn't go far enough in guaranteeing job
security, or shifting health care costs off workers.
Should machinists walk out Friday at midnight -- and that's the
odds-on favorite scenario at this time -- it would mark the fourth
IAM strike against Boeing in 20 years. Analysts say a strike would
cost Boeing about $100 million per day in lost revenue, as
unfinished planes sit idle on production lines, unable to be
delivered to customers.
If the strike lasts more than a few weeks, Boeing's suppliers
would also feel the sting, as parts awaiting shipment to Boeing
begin to stack up on the loading docks.
Analyst Richard Aboulafia, with the Teal Group, said he was
surprised at the membership turnout in favor of a strike. "It looks
like the union is flexing its muscles," he said. "It virtually
guarantees that Boeing is going to have to pay more, and feel some