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Originally published December 11, 2013 at 12:36 PM | Page modified December 12, 2013 at 5:38 PM

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Machinists make offer to Boeing for 777X; quick reply expected

The Machinists union Wednesday made a preliminary contract offer to Boeing, seeking a labor deal that would secure the building of the 777X jet for Everett.


Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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Machinists union representatives Wednesday proposed to Boeing a preliminary contract that would secure future 777X wing-fabrication and final-assembly work for Everett workers.

In a notice sent out to members late Wednesday afternoon, the union said it expects Boeing to respond to the offer Thursday.

International Association of Machinists (IAM) 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 terms of the IAM offer, which came on the second day of meetings between the two sides at the Longacres headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

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

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

A month ago, rank-and-file union members rejected by a 2-to-1 ratio an eight-year contract offered by Boeing that included freezing the pension and a dramatically slower wage progression for new hires.

Boeing then opened up a site-search process and invited 15 sites around the country to offer incentives to win the 777X work and up to 8,500 highly paid jobs.

States had until Tuesday to submit bids. That same day, Boeing and the union re-engaged talks 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.

With negotiations moving so fast, a person on the union side with knowledge of the discussions said that, if the talks are successful, a new vote on a contract extension could be held before Christmas.

“Everybody wants a negotiated settlement here,” the person said. “The feeling on the shop floor is optimistic.”

The previous negotiations were held in secret. This time, 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 wrote.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder declined to provide any negotiation details.

“As we’ve said from the beginning of the 777X site-selection process, we continue to look at all of our options,” Alder said. “As we start evaluating the proposals, we’ll engage with all interested parties.”

If Boeing and the Machinists reach a deal, it would abruptly end the site-search competition and secure all the 777X work for Washington state.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com



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