December 12, 2013 in Region

Boeing resumes 777X talks with Machinists union in Washington

Dominic Gates Seattle Times
 

SEATTLE – Following an initial meeting with top Boeing Co. leaders Tuesday, the Machinists union began serious negotiations Wednesday and presented management with a preliminary proposal for a contract that would secure 777X wing fabrication and final assembly work for Everett.

In a notice sent to members Wednesday afternoon, the union said it expects Boeing will respond to the offer today.

International Association of Machinists District 751 President Tom Wroblewski described the tone of Wednesday’s talks as “respectful and constructive,” but said the two sides are not close to an agreement.

Neither the union nor the company is disclosing any of the terms.

“We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of The Boeing Co. in Washington state,” Wroblewski said.

In a fast-paced negotiation track, the union offer came on the second day of meetings between the two sides at the Renton headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing was represented by senior executives including commercial airplane chief Ray Conner. Wroblewski led the union side, along with the Local 751 business representatives and national union officials.

A month ago, rank-and-file union members voted by a 2-to-1 margin to reject a proposed eight-year contract offered by management.

Following the rejection, Boeing opened up a site search process and invited 15 sites around the country to submit bids, offering incentives to win the 777X work and up to 8,500 highly paid jobs.

That competition closed Tuesday, the deadline for other states to submit bids. That day, Boeing re-engaged talks with the union for the first time since the Nov. 13 vote.

Referring to the nationwide site search, Wroblewski said the Machinists represent “the high-skill, low-risk solution to Boeing’s manufacturing needs.”

“Our members want Boeing to be successful, and Boeing’s best chance of success for the 777X is to build it here, utilizing their skills, experience and dedication,” he said.

The last negotiations were held in secret, but the terms of the offer that emerged – which included freezing the pension – were soundly rejected by the membership.

This time, the union seems to want to be more open with its membership.

Wroblewski sent a note to all members before and after the meeting to keep them abreast of developments.

“Our membership wants to build this airplane, and we believe Boeing wants to do it here,” Wroblewski said.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder declined to provide any details on the negotiations.

“As we’ve said from the beginning of the 777X site selection process, we continue to look at all of our options,” Alder said.


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