Machinists union presents Boeing offer to secure 777X

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News Aviation Specialist

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 1:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 12:47 PM

SEATTLE -- Machinists Union representatives have presented the Boeing Co. with a preliminary proposal for a contract that would secure 777X wing fabrication and final assembly work for Puget Sound.

The union is not disclosing any of the terms of its Wednesday offer.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski in a posting by the district.

Wroblewski said he expects Boeing will respond to the offer on Thursday. He described the tone of Wednesday’s talks as “respectful and constructive,” but said the two sides are not close to an agreement.

One machinist who has been with the company for 17 years, said he isn't hopeful.

"I think there is a pretty large gap between where the company was, and where we felt we were when we rejected their offer," said Paul Velkamp. "But it's good that they're talking."

Last month, the Machinists voted to reject an eight-year contract extension by a count of two to one. The offer required changes to pensions, the rate at which machinists would move up the pay scale and requirements to pay more into their medical plans. Many machinists said Boeing's contract contained too many concessions.

The talks come now as Boeing has in-hand proposals from as many as 17 other states that also want to land assembly or large parts of the 777X production.

Sources tell KING 5 News that talks on Monday night focused on what went wrong with the last contract offer and how the company remained concerned about future costs, specifically the pension. Boeing said in its last offer it wants to move over to a 401K style plan.

The union said in an online posting that they will continue to make the case that Boeing should build the 777X in Washington.

“Our members want Boeing to be successful, and Boeing’s best chance of success for the 777X is to build it here, utilizing their skills, experience and dedication,” Wroblewski said. “A business analyst might call our Machinists the high-skill, low-risk solution to Boeing’s manufacturing needs. I’d just call us the best aerospace workers in the world.”

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, who along with other elected leaders helped get both sides talking again, called Wednesday's news "a positive step".  City Councilman Paul Roberts echoed his encouragement.

"The workforce is here.  The capacity is here.  The infrastructure is here.  We hope we can move forward in a positive way," he said.

KING 5's John Langeler contributed to this report

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