Union leaders have rejected Boeing’s latest offer to build the 777X in the Seattle area, even as the company considers competing bids from 22 states for 54 sites.
Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) met for three days this week. Leaders of IAM District 751 submitted a new proposal to Boeing to guarantee 777X assembly in Seattle on 11 December. Boeing responded with a counter-offer on 12 December, but the IAM district’s leadership rejected it.
“Unfortunately the offer, which would have ensured this great airplane for the Puget Sound region, was immediately rejected by the union leadership,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Ray Conner said in a statement.
The negotiations came only three weeks after IAM members rejected Boeing’s original proposal to build the 777X in Seattle by a two-to-one margin.
Union members were angered by Boeing’s stance on abolishing company-funded pensions, among other givebacks in the original proposal.
In the company’s latest counter-offer, company-funded pensions would still be deleted, but Boeing increased a signing bonus for approving the contract from $10,000 to $15,000.
The drama over the 777X assembly site is the only missing piece in the programme. Boeing launched the re-engined and re-winged aircraft in dramatic fashion last month at the Dubai air show with a firm order by Emirates for 150 aircraft.
Boeing is promising to deliver the 777X by 2020, but at least one major customer wants the aircraft even sooner. Etihad chief executive James Hogan signed a firm order for 26 777X aircraft, saying they would be delivered “after 2018”.
Conner has explained that Boeing needs to resolve the assembly site for the 777X within the next several months, but some observers believe that the decision will be made within weeks.
While the Seattle area remains the favourite pending a labour agreement, other sites ranging from California to Utah to Texas to South Carolina are in play. Boeing has experience standing up a greenfield factory to build an aircraft with the 787’s alternate assembly line in Charleston, South Carolina.