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Mon, Oct 13, 2008

Report: Negotiators From Boeing, IAM In Mediated Talks To End Strike

Union Leaders Are "Cautiously Optimistic" Of Outcome

In an effort to end the stalemate between striking members of the International Association of Machinists and the Boeing Company, negotiators from both sides have agreed to resume talks with the assistance of a federal mediator.

The union acknowledged Sunday that discussions with Boeing have begun but said it will not provide further updates until the new round of talks has concluded, reports the Everett (WA) Daily Herald.

In an update to members posted on the Machinists' website, union leaders said, "We remain cautiously optimistic Boeing will negotiate fairly and address members' issues. In the meantime, we need members to keep the picket lines strong, as the strike continues during these talks."

About 27,000 Machinists went on strike against Boeing on September 6 when union members overwhelmingly rejected Boeing's last contract offer.

Boeing previously offered an 11 percent general wage increase over the next three years, with a minimum of $5,000 in bonuses in the first year. But the union said Boeing's offer shifted more health care costs onto members, didn't provide adequate pension benefits, and didn't ease their concerns about outsourcing, according to the paper.

With a record backlog of 3,700 jets, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said the strike has resulted in Boeing losing its position as a reliable supplier for its airline customers. Last week, Boeing officials emphatically reiterated the company's need to outsource in order to stay competitive with Airbus, its biggest rival.

IAM leaders say they understand Boeing's need to outsource in some instances to gain access to other markets, but the union wants the opportunity to bid on work typically performed by union members.

On the picket lines in Everett, machinists are reportedly sharing their union leaders' cautious optimism on the new round of negotiations.

Members also revealed their frustration with Boeing executives by renaming their Everett strike locations 'McNerneyville,' 'Carson Heights' and 'Kight Acres' -- in "honor" of Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Scott Carson, and Boeing's lead negotiator Doug Kight.



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