Boeing Decision
12:37 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Union Leaders: Machinists Make Labor Proposal to Boeing

The machinists’ union has presented a labor proposal to the Boeing Company, local union leaders said late Wednesday afternoon. 

The details of the proposal have not been released. The union made the announcement after an hours-long meeting with Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner and other company executives Wednesday, raising hopes that the two sides may strike an agreement to build the next 777 wide-body jet in the Puget Sound region.

“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 District Lodge 751, in a statement. The union said it expects a response from Boeing by Thursday.

Bryan Corliss, spokesman for District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said earlier Wednesday the two sides agreed to continue talks that began Tuesday as a “feedback session,” not a full-fledged contract negotiation.

“I’m told it was an honest and even heartfelt conversation,” Corliss said. “Everybody got a chance to speak their piece. On our side, it was important for our business representatives to communicate to Boeing what they were hearing from the members on the shop floor and that’s what they did.”

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder declined to comment on what was discussed at the meeting.

"As we’ve said from the beginning of the 777X site selection process, we continue to look at all of our options," Alder said in a statement. "As we start evaluating the proposals, we’ll engage with all interested parties."

Boeing asked states to submit proposals to win the 777X assembly site after members of the machinists union in Washington state resoundingly rejected an offer from Boeing that would have guaranteed that the plane would be built here.

The company asked union members to accept a pension freeze in 2016, slower wage increases and higher health insurance costs. The company sweetened the offer with a $10,000 signing bonus and increased matches to the 401(k)-type retirement plan.

`Something We've All Been Pushing for'

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, says she’s heartened the two sides are talking again as the assembly work is so important for the Washington state economy.

“Building the 777X in the Puget Sound region is absolutely critical for our families, for jobs, for the economy, for the future ability we will have to be the aerospace hub for the world. We all want that,” Murray said. “So it’s a good sign that the Boeing chief has met with the union reps. This is something we’ve all been pushing for, and I hope that it is fruitful.”

Alex Pietsch, director of the state’s office of aerospace said he doesn’t have specific information on what was discussed, but said he’s pleased the two sides have re-engaged.

“I think it’s great,” Pietsch said. “The governor has been encouraging the machinists and the company to come back together since the night of the vote. So we’re encouraged to see that happening and we hope it’s the beginning of an ongoing dialogue that can lead to a positive outcome for the company, its employees and the state of Washington.”