Could the vote by machinists that barely said yes to keeping the 777X in Washington state be overturned? About 30 machinists union members held an informal rally at the union hall in
Everett late Monday afternoon. Simply put, they want another vote.
The rally follows the close Friday vote where the machinists union narrowly approved an eight-year contract extension with Boeing to win the 777X plane by 51 percent.
Boeing's first offer was rejected by a margin of two-to-one, or 67%, back on November 13. It's believed as many as 5,000 machinists did not vote on that offer.
Boeing's second offer was forced to a vote by the Machinists' international office in Washington, D.C., over the objections of local leaders of Machinists District 751. That vote was held on January 3 and the union says 7,700 members did not vote.
The concern is that many machinists were still on vacation. Boeing schedules vacation from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day. This year, many Boeing employees took the Thursday and Friday after New Year's Day off as well.
Some 31,600 machinists are eligible to vote, and some 23,900 did, according to the union. That works out to 75 percent turnout. But with just a 600 vote margin of victory for those saying yes to the contract, some machinists say there was just too many people who did not vote to consider the vote fair.
The case has the attention of the National Labor Relations Board office in Seattle. The regional attorney Anne Pomerantz says the phones have been ringing and her office has received a steady stream of calls from unhappy machinists who want the vote to be investigated and overturned. It appears at least two cases have already been filed questioning the timing of the vote and the level of participation.
But a re vote, or even a recount is considered a long shot. The NLRB says it will take about 12 weeks to complete an investigation before deciding if a case has enough merit to move forward. That's effectively three months. By the end of this month, Machinists should receive the $10,000 signing bonus offered in the contract extension, that's expected to further lock in the deal.
But a months long NLRB investigation could leave a legal cloud over the vote as Boeing promises to move quickly forward on its development of the 777X and related factories in Puget Sound, including a huge brand new 777X composite wing plant.
While a close vote was expected, a statement by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner following the vote did not equivocate. "Under the terms of the eight-year contract extension, the 777X and its composite wing will be built in t he 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."