Seeking vote on Boeing 777X contract, Machinists take it outside
More than 30 workers marched from Boeing’s Everett plant to the Machinists Union Hall to challenge their leadership’s decision not to seek a vote on the latest Boeing 777X contract proposal.
Seattle Times business reporter
Boeing Machinists got into a heated debate Wednesday afternoon in Everett over whether they should have a vote on Boeing’s most recent contract offer.
More than 30 workers marched from Boeing’s sprawling assembly plant to the local union hall, waving signs and chanting “we want a voice,” to show they disagree with IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski’s decision not to call for a vote on Boeing’s revised contract offer.
The union’s local leadership says the proposal, modified by Boeing after Machinists rejected the first version by 2 to 1 on Nov. 13, isn’t improved enough to warrant a new vote. Wroblewski also has said Boeing took the contract off the table after the union leaders wouldn’t endorse it; Boeing disputes that.
The marching workers — a mix of men and women, new hires and longtime workers — said they want a chance to vote again.
“I think a lot of people have come to a realization that the pension is not going to be there when they retire and would have changed their vote this time,” said march organizer Paul Fritzler, who has worked as a 777 structure mechanic for three years.
Boeing had said it would build the 777X plane here if the Machinists accept the proposed eight-year contract extension, from 2016 to 2024.
The company’s latest offer still replaced a traditional pension plan with a retirement savings plan, but dropped the earlier proposal to dramatically slow the rate of wage growth for new hires.
Waiting for the marchers at the union hall was a handful of union workers who oppose a new vote. The two sides had a yelling match about whether to vote now or strike in 2016.
However, after the initial arguments, the two sides calmed down and had a discussion.
“I understand the fear of losing their job,” said Kevin Flynn, who has worked at Boeing for 17 years and was at the union hall Wednesday to show his support for Wroblewski. “But at the same time, it is foolish to vote away a fixed pension,” he said.
Boeing is currently reviewing proposals from 22 states to build the plane.
Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @coralgarnick