Boeing machinists reject contract extension

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 7:05 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 14 at 7:12 AM

SEATTLE -- Some 20,000 Boeing machinists in the Puget Sound voted to reject Boeing’s proposed contract extension with a 67 percent no vote.

“Today, the democratic process worked and our members made the decision to not accept the company’s proposal," IAM District 751 Directing Business Rep. Tom Wroblewskis said in a statement. "It is my belief that we represent the best aerospace workforce in the world and hope that as a result of this vote Boeing will not discard our skills when looking to place the 777X.

“We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal. We’ve held on to our pensions and that’s big. At a time when financial planners are talking about a ‘retirement crisis’ in America, we have preserved a tool that will help our members retire with more comfort and dignity."

Boeing had proposed the eight-year contract extension, saying it needed the deal to assemble the new 777X in Washington state. With the threat of those jobs going to another state, lawmakers rushed to approve $8.7 billion in tax breaks last week.

Members of International Association of Machinists District 751 called for a no vote, protesting Boeing Co.'s push to end a traditional pension plan and increase their health care costs. Workers would have gotten a $10,000 signing bonus if they approved the deal.

After results of Wednesday's vote were released, Boeing President and CEO Ray Conner issued a statement, saying Boeing is "very disappointed in the outcome of the union vote."

"Our goal was two-fold: to enable the 777X and its new composite wing to be produced in Puget Sound and to create a competitive structure to ensure that we continue market-leading pay, health care and retirement benefits while preserving jobs and our industrial base here in the region. But without the terms of this contract extension, we're left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X."

Raw: Boeing CEO talks about 777x vote, possible move

"This was an unparalleled opportunity for us," said Gov. Jay Inslee.  "It was the largest job creating opportunity in the state of Washington history. We could have won it tonight without anyone even getting in the front door."

“We are starting a new chapter of competition for this aircraft,” said Inslee.

“Tonight our state is buckling down to the task of showcasing our strengths and continue to show them in the weeks to come,” he said.

Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said earlier this week that the company was not bluffing in its message that the 777X line could be placed elsewhere.

KING 5 News has learned that on Thursday, Boeing will deploy staff to begin working with other states to begin the process of determining what other offers may be out there.

In an interview with KING 5 News on Tuesday, Inslee said that Boeing told him that they had been contacted by 10-12 other states months ago.

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