EVERETT -- All eyes are on the Boeing's Machinists: Will they approve or reject the company’s latest offer?
Thousands of union members cast their ballots Friday -- Machinists have been lining up to vote since before sunrise.
Dan Mulder voted no on the previous contract offer in November and the latest offer from Boeing hasn’t changed his mind.
“Probably vote the same way I voted last time,” said Mulder.
Bob Denis held the only ‘vote yes’ sign in the middle of hundreds of Machinists. He was hoping to influence other union members.
“I just feel there’s a lot of negative response to the contract proposal at this time and I felt like I had to take matters into my own hands,” said Denis. “Hopefully I can sway a few votes.”
The latest offer by Boeing has created a rift between the national and local union leaders on how the vote should go down. Local leaders said the latest contract wasn't good enough to vote on, but the national leadership pushed for an election.
Aviation expert Scott Hamilton says finding a different outcome this time around could be a tough fight.
“There was a 34 point spread, a 2-1 vote against on November 13,” said Hamilton. “So you have to swing 17 points on the vote. That’s a big, uphill climb.”
The main sticking point is the pension system. If this contract is accepted pensions would be frozen in 2016 and move to a 401k retirement plan.
Earlier this week, local politicians urged Machinists to accept.
“There are people around this region who would love to have that kind of a contract,” said Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke. “You think about Boeing’s competition, it’s not just in this region, in this state, or in the United States. It’s international competition. It’s a great contract.”
Boeing says if Machinists do accept the eight-year contract, it will enable the company to build its planned 777X airliner in the Puget Sound region, guaranteeing high paying jobs for years.
Even so, Hamilton says tense negotiations like this one will never go away.
“If a miracle happens and they accept this contract, that’s nothing but good news for the Puget Sound,” Hamilton said. “But nobody should be under any illusions that Boeing won’t put us all through the same process for the next airplane down the road."
But if Machinists shoot the offer down, Boeing says it’s possible it’ll decide to produce the 777x, and create thousands of high-paying jobs, in one of the 20 states vying for the project.
“If we vote this down, it seems logical they will follow through with one of those and take it somewhere else,” said Denis.
The union said voting would close at 6 p.m. and it's estimated results would be announced between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.