August 30, 2005 in Business

Boeing talks in bad shape, union says

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Days before a contract between Boeing Co. and the Machinists union is to expire, labor leaders said the two sides remain far apart and warned of a possible strike.

Seattle-based Machinists Lodge 751 on Monday countered the aerospace company’s latest contract offer with their own proposal, but the union declined to provide details.

The latest Boeing proposal, submitted late Sunday, would boost cash bonuses by at least $1,500, but Machinists union leaders representing 18,400 production workers say it missed the point – pensions.

“The important thing is that we’re still negotiating. We’re still discussing the issues,” Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said.

Bickers had characterized those changes, which carry an immediate price tag of at least $27.2 million, as “an important improvement, a substantial improvement.”

Machinists spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said the two sides remained “far apart” and dismissed the company’s three-year offer as a “minimal” advance.

Workers represented in the talks now receive an average of $59,000 a year. No general pay increase has been offered, but Boeing estimates that cost-of-living provisions would boost base wages by about 1 percent in each year of the contract.

Alcoa, union unable to reach agreement

New York Leading aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. said negotiations with its union over a long-term master labor contract that covers several U.S. operations ended over the weekend without an agreement.

The latest round of talks, which began Aug. 22, concluded Saturday after the Pittsburgh-based company made its first economic offer to members of the United Steelworkers union.

Although the current contract governing union workers at 15 U.S. operations doesn’t expire until May 31, the company said it is attempting to save money and time.

Alcoa said Monday that the week’s discussions resulted in a “better understanding of the positions and issues that are important to each side.”

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