IAM vote on 777X deal set for 3 January

Washington DC
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About 30,000 Boeing workers will decide whether the 777X will be built in the Puget Sound area on 3 January in a controversial vote set by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

The vote is scheduled about three weeks after local IAM leaders rejected an improved Boeing offer, arguing it still set too high of a price to ensure that the 777X will be assembled in the Puget Sound area.

District 751 president Tom Wroblewski initially refused to forward the rejected offer to IAM members for a vote. However, leaders of the international office of the union insisted that the offer is presented to all members.

The local and international leaders of the IAM union have been feuding since mid-November over how to respond to the terms of Boeing’s offer to keep the flagship widebody production line in Puget Sound.

Boeing has increased a signing bonus for all IAM members if the contract is accepted by 50% to $15,000 in its latest offer. But the company is still demanding that the union accept steep concessions, including a divisive proposal to replace a company-funded pension programme with a shared contribution scheme after 2016.

Local IAM leaders agreed to send the company’s original proposal with a $10,000 signing bonus to members for a vote on 13 November, but it was rejected by a two-to-one margin.

Although Boeing has improved certain details in its latest offer, the local IAM chapter is “adamantly recommending” that members reject the deal.

The union argues that agreement locks in deep concessions for the next 11 years at a time when Boeing is setting records for order backlogs, aircraft deliveries and profits.

Meanwhile, Boeing was expected to narrow the list of alternative sites for 777X assembly to a small number from 54 submitted by 22 states on 10 December. The Puget Sound area remains the company’s preferred site for 777X assembly under the terms of its latest proposal to the IAM. But it will consider alternatives if the IAM again rejects the proposal.