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Boeing and machinists’ union reach agreement

Originally published on 01/12/2011 - Filed under: News »

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Uncertainty surrounding the capacity of Boeing to delivery on its 787 Dreamliner appears to have lifted somewhat with the announcement of a new labor pact between the company and the International Association of Machinists (IAM), the manufacturer’s largest union. 

If the deal is ratified by the union rank and file, it would apparently remove the IAM’s objections to Boeing’s new $750 million plant in South Carolina, where the company set up a second 787 production line. A union vote is scheduled for Dec 7.

In addition to the current 787 assembly line in operation at Boeing’s Everett, WA plant, the agreement guarantees that a different aircraft – the updated 737 Max – would be assembled at union facilities in Renton, WA, according to Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District 751.

Wroblewski said that if union members vote to approve the deal, the union would drop its grievance against Boeing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The four-year deal also gives workers a 2 percent pay raise over cost of living increases, plus pension increases and bonuses. However under the agreement, union employees will be required to pick up more of their health care costs.

The contract would protect Boeing’s production from strike actions just as the manufacturer anticipates an increase in aircraft demand over the next decade. It also takes off the table the labor dispute over the Dreamliner plant in South Carolina, which is a right-to-work state.

Acting on a complaint from the IAM, the NLRB filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Boeing was, in effect, moving jobs to avoid legal union strikes in Washington state, charges Boeing has vigorously denied. The NLRB action had become an issue in the 2012 election, with Republican candidates citing the Board’s actions as an example of what they called the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach.

With the union grievance over the South Carolina facility settled, the NLRB legal action is likely to be dropped. 

Report by Dan Booth

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