December 13, 1995 in Nation/World

Contract Offers ‘Generous’ Incentives

Grayden Jones
 

Boeing Machinists in Spokane will receive an unexpected $2,000 bonus three days before Christmas, and can get another $1,200 each by joining a health maintenance organization if they approve a new four-year contract today.

Under the contract proposal, the 293 Machinists who work at the company’s Airway Heights fabrication plant also would be guaranteed a job at the company if their positions were farmed out to a subcontractor.

The incentives are “generous” and rare for Spokane employers, according to local employee-benefit experts.

“This is fairly generous,” said Tim Yeager, president of A.W. Rehn & Associates, an employee benefit administrator. “I’ve never heard of such things offered here.”

Michael Murphy, president of Associated Industries of the Inland Northwest, an organization of 460 companies, agreed. Boeing’s proposed one-time Christmas bonus of 10 percent of annual income and an agreement to relocate or retrain any displaced workers are unheard of in Spokane, he said.

“It’s top notch,” Murphy said. “We’re hard pressed to come close to Boeing rates and benefits.”

But union officials said those are benefits that workers won by sacrificing 10 weeks of wages, picketing in sub-freezing temperatures and maintaining solidarity.

“If workers had caved in and had those take-aways rammed down their throat, how much longer would it be before Spokane employers would be asking people to take the same thing?” said union spokesman Matt Bates in Seattle. “We’ve set an example to workers throughout the United States.”

The following are highlights of the proposed contract, which must be approved by a simple majority.

The four-year contract would run from the date of ratification to Sept. 1, 1999.

Workers would receive a 10 percent first-year bonus, up from 5 percent in the initial offer; a 4.5 percent lump-sum bonus in the second year, up from 3 percent, and a 3 percent general-wage increase in the third and fourth years.

Average wages are projected to climb to $23.20 an hour from $20.37 an hour - a 12.4 percent increase.

Wage hikes and lump-sum payments would add $20,000 over the four years of the agreement. Machinists have lost an average of $7,200 in wages due to the strike.

Job-security language pledges any worker affected by subcontracting would be reassigned or retrained for available work inside Boeing.

Employees willing to switch to a managed health-care plans would receive an incentive of $600 in 1996, $400 in 1997 and $200 in 1998. No employee contributions required for coverage under the optional medical plans.

Employees would be required to contribute to the Boeing Medical Plan beginning July 1, 1998, if medical costs exceed the national average. Contributions would not exceed $10 for individuals and $30 for family coverage.

Pensions would rise to $40 per month per year of service, from the current $35 per month per year of service. Retirees remain protected by the IAM agreement, with no change in health-insurance coverage.

, DataTimes


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