Machinists vote today on latest Boeing contract offer

EVERETT -- Members of the International Associations of Machinists local 751 vote on the latest contract offer from Boeing Today.

Workers began showing up at union halls across the region. Voting began at 5 a.m. and will go until 6 p.m. tonight.

Boeing says the contract up for a vote is its best and final offer. Union officials say the offer is no good. It would raise healthcare costs and cut pensions by 2016 and move towards a 401k retirement plan. The pension change has been a major sticking point for local union leaders who continue to urge its members to vote "no" on the contract offer.

If the machinists accept this contract offer it would guarantee decades of work and guarantee that the new 777x would be built in the Puget Sound.

Boeing released a statement on Thursday saying, "this contract keeps the IAM workforce above market in wages, health care and the retirement benefits. If the contract is ratified, the 777x will be built in the Puget Sound area by Boeing employees represented by the IAM."

On Monday, local leaders including mayors from Kent and Everett held a press conference urging the machinists to vote yes, saying the future of Boeing's presence rests directly in the hands of union employees.

"There is no option here other than a yes on the contract or else we're all in this together.  We will see the demise of the economic stimulus that Boeing has provided us," Kent Mayor Suzete Cooke said.

 Boeing has repeatedly stated if the union votes down the contract offer they will look elsewhere to build the 777x. Union leaders argue that the latest offer will have a major impact on its members.

"Our best estimates is this is going to lower our members retirement income by 2/3rds," Union rep Bryan Corliss said.  Corliss says Boeing would be making a huge mistake if they decide to build the new jet elsewhere.

"All of the objective industry analysts, third party research says that Washington State, Puget Sound, is the best place for Boeing to build the 777x.  It's their best bet for success with this program.," Corliss said.

Local union leadership is at odds with its national leadership.  Recently, the president of the Machinist Union, Tom Buffenbarger said the workers may want to consider having their pensions frozen or face the reality of losing jobs in the future.

Back in November, the machinist union workers voted down the last contract offer from Boeing by 2-to-1.  The pension was the big sticking point, which still remains the biggest issue with this latest vote.

 Results of the vote today could come as early as 9:30 tonight.