Boeing machinists on verge of a tense vote

Nov. 12, 2013 at 12:50 PM
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SEATTLE, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Jobs are hanging in the balance as machinists in the Seattle area prepare to vote on a Boeing contract proposal, union and company officials said.

At a signing ceremony where Gov. Jay Inslee put his signature on corporate tax breaks that were rushed into law at Boeing's insistence, Boeing Commercial Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner said, "it's not a bluff," referring to the company's threat to pull 777X production out of the state if the union turns down the proposal in a vote on Wednesday.

Gov. Inslee said 56,000 jobs were at stake, including 20,000 Boeing jobs and thousands of other jobs supported by Boeing employees.

Along with tax breaks, the state quickly passed other concessions for Boeing, which has a second assembly plant in the non-union state of South Carolina that could take away 777X production from Boeing's facilities in Everett, Wash., near Seattle.

Washington agreed to speed up regulatory approval of Boeing projects and support aerospace training with state funds, The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

"Most importantly, this is about the future. It's about jobs," Machinists District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said at the signing ceremony.

Wroblewski, however, would not say which way he would vote on the contract proposal that he tore up and denounced less than a week ago.

The contract would give members of the machinists union a 1 percent raise every other year plus a cost of living adjustment. It would also make changes to pension and health benefits, the Times said.

Some union members remain angered by the proposals, the Times said.

"I've gone on strike for months over contract offers that were way better than this," said Robley Evans, a forklift driver and a union steward and vice president in the union's Local F unit.

The new proposal, "completely stinks," he said.

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