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Boeing threatens to retreat from Washington

Nov. 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. airplane maker Boeing Co. says it will move production out of Washington state if union workers and state lawmakers do not accept its contract proposal.

"We chose to engage in Puget Sound first, but without full acceptance by the union and Legislature, we will be left with no choice but to open up the process competitively and pursue other options for locating the 777X work," Boeing said in a statement Friday.

Boeing gave the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers until next Wednesday to approve a proposed eight-year contract extension, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The company proposal increases workers' healthcare costs and scraps a traditional pension plan in favor of a defined contribution plan. It would provide pay raises of 1 percent every other year, and new hires would not reach the top of the pay scale for 16 years -- down from the current standard of six years.

IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski ended a union meeting Thursday by calling the proposal "a piece of crap" and tearing up a copy of it, The Seattle Times reported. Wroblewski said he would look into whether union bylaws permit pulling the proposal and scrapping a vote scheduled for next Wednesday.

The company has offered incentives including a $10,000 signing bonus if the union supports the deal.

Scott Hamilton, an aviation analyst in Issaquah, Wash., said in an online post Friday union members who think Boeing is bluffing are engaging in "fantasy."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called a special session of the legislature Thursday to try to extend tax breaks for Boeing through 2040, The New York Times said.

Tax breaks currently in place are scheduled to expire in 2024.

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