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Boeing braces for possible strike

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Boeing Co. braced Wednesday for a possible strike at its commercial airplane operations after leaders of more than 18,000 Machinists advised workers to reject a final contract offer they deemed “insulting.”

Hundreds of workers used their lunch breaks Wednesday to protest the company’s offer, as Boeing provided its own take on the contract in an effort to shore up support for the offer.

Union members will vote on the three-year offer today. Under union rules, the contract will automatically be ratified unless two-thirds of covered workers approve a strike.

A tally is expected this evening. If a strike is approved, Machinists would walk off the job hours later at 12:01 a.m. PDT Friday, the day the current three-year pact expires.

“Clearly a strike would be devastating to the Boeing company and everybody associated with the Boeing company,” Alan Mulally, head of Boeing’s Seattle-based commercial airplane operations, said at a news conference Tuesday, after the company presented its final offer to the union.

Mulally said the company would have no choice but to slowly shut down operations, potentially sending customers to competitors including European archrival Airbus SAS.

Mark Blondin, president of Seattle-based Machinists Lodge 751, which represents workers who assemble commercial airplanes, said Wednesday that Boeing could avert such a potential disaster by giving workers a better offer.

“We are going to shut down their operations, and if he would do the math he would come back to the table,” Blondin said.

Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said the company had no plans to return to the bargaining table.

“The union asked us to put the best and final offer to them on the 30th and that’s what we did,” Bickers said Wednesday.

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