Union vote secures Boeing work in Washington

Jan. 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM
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SEATTLE, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Boeing Co. workers voted to accept an eight-year contract their union said cuts benefits but preserves "thousands of good-paying" jobs in Washington state.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751, representing more than 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington state, ratified the contract Friday, with 51 percent voting in favor of the deal, which will keep production of the 777X in Everett, Wash.

Some union members were moved to tears when the results were announced, the Seattle Times reported.

Boeing had threatened to move production elsewhere after the union rejected the deal late last year, and said it had offers to relocate to 22 states, including California.

The union said 23,900 votes were cast and the margin of victory was about 600 votes, but the final tally was not announced.

Major developments include a contract extension through 2024, continuance of a "zoom" raise program for fresh hires that puts them on a fast track to pay equal to veterans, a 4 percent raise plus cost of living adjustments, a signing bonus of $15,000 paid in two installments --- one now and one in 2020 -- and the phasing out of pension plan accruals in 2016.

Instead of a pension plan, Boeing will contribute 10 percent of gross pay for the first two years of work, 6 percent the following year and 4 percent in subsequent years, to a retirement savings account. That is a bump from the current 4 percent a year contribution, the Times said.

Local union leaders urged members to reject the deal.

"Despite individual differences, I believe this vote preserves thousands of good-paying IAM jobs, while assuring the success of the 777X program," said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.

Ray Conner, vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the vote means "the future of Boeing in the Puget Sound region has never looked brighter."

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