SEATTLE -- Hundreds of Machinists packed the Seattle Union Hall Thursday afternoon for a “Vote No” rally ahead of the vote on Boeing’s latest contract offer Friday.
In November, members of the Machinists union overwhelmingly rejected Boeing’s initial offer, which included benefit rollbacks from their current contract. The company said it needed the proposed contract approved in order to build the planned Boeing 777X in Washington state.
Union members said they didn’t like that Boeing wanted them to replace their current pension plan with a 401k retirement account and to make employees work up to 16 years before achieving top pay.
Even though there have been some concessions in this new Boeing offer, such as eliminating the longer wage-scale ladder, the International Association of Machinists says it's still a bad deal.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said in a written statement: "This contract keeps the IAM workforce above market in wages, health care and retirement benefits. If the contract is ratified, the 777X will be built in the Puget Sound area by Boeing employees represented by the IAM. This work includes fuselage build, final assembly and major components fabrication such as interiors and wires.
"The work also includes the composite wing fabrication and assembly. There is no other composite wing production facility in the U.S. today. Current mechanics will have the opportunity to be trained for this new composite work, which could set the stage for the next generation of manufacturing innovation in the Puget Sound region. In addition, Boeing commits to fabricate and assemble the 737 MAX in the Puget Sound and KC-46 Tanker and P-8 production work in Puget Sound and Portland through 2024."
Machinists union members say there’s been more pressure from government officials and the community on the vote this time around. They’re being urged to accept the contract to ensure the 777x is built here.
But they say that voting yes would set a dangerous precedent.
“It sets a way for Boeing to continue to do these types of deals every two or three years, where they're going to hold other programs over our heads, and blackmail us into taking huge concessions. We have to stop it, we have to stop it right now,” says Machinist member Robley Evans.
There is some concern about how many union members will be able to vote Friday. The union has tried to spread the word and offered absentee ballots to make sure everyone has a chance to have their say.
Vote results will include ballots from union members in Kansas, Oregon and Washington. Voting ends at 6 p.m. Friday (PT) and the estimated time for results to be announced is between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday.