SEATTLE — Members of Boeing’s machinists union will have the opportunity to vote on a revised contract that, if approved, would place production of the 777X in Washington State. The vote, which was forced by IAM International over objections by the local 751 chapter, is scheduled for Friday, January 3rd.
The most recent development in the ongoing saga of Boeing vs the IAM machinists union vs itself for the 777X contract began two weeks ago. Local leadership had been engaging in talks with Boeing brass following landslide rejection of the company’s original proposal back in November. As the talks progressed, the machinists union made Boeing an offer. The company did not accept, and turned around with a counter-proposal of its own.
The offer proposed upping the signing bonus from $10,000 to $15,000 per member, as originally reported by the Seattle Times. It also dropped a new wage structure that saw new members climb the pay scale at a much slower rate. However, management largely stuck to their guns on the most unpalatable of provisions: pension and benefit changes (a small tweak was made to the dental plan). Local union leadership rejected the offer, despite Boeing announcing it would be their “best and final” offer to the region.
The incident further highlights the split in the union between International and local IAM leadership. Local leadership, which was largely silenced by International during the first contract vote, has publicly come out against the latest contract from Boeing. Their website encourages union members to “to look at the facts of the economic destruction they would live under for the next 11 years,” before voting. The site points out that the contract is mostly unchanged from the original contract, which was voted down in a 2-1 landslide.
Why exactly International has decided to force the vote is unclear, though the potential to lose 31,000 dues-paying members is a hard motivation to ignore.
The upcoming vote also highlights a growing split in the local 751 membership. While the original contract was voted down 2-1, a growing number of vocal members had come out demanding a vote on Boeing’s most recent proposal. The group had become increasingly vocal as their employer continued plugging forward in its bid to find a new location, worrying members who grew concerned that Boeing was not bluffing.
Should this revised contract be voted down Boeing is expected to choose a final location or locations by the end of January. It is currently in the process of creating a short-list of 54 sites from across the US. The full list is not known, but both North Carolina and Pennsylvania confirmed that they are no longer being considered.