Dull labor news is exciting for Boeing, its workers
The Seattle Times editorial board congratulates Boeing and the International Association of Machinists on an innovative contract that benefits the people of Puget Sound.
Seattle Times Editorial
IT was a seemingly dull story, at the bottom of page A10. Boeing had reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists on a system for incentive pay. The story had no crisis, no excitement and no disagreement from the sources quoted.
It was the best sort of news for people of the Puget Sound.
The bottom line: Boeing's assembly workers will be able to earn annual bonuses of as much as 4 percent based on measures of productivity, quality and safety. This is in addition to the 2 percent across-the-board annual increases and $5,000 ratification bonus negotiated last November, which included Boeing's promise to assemble the 737 MAX in Renton.
All this goes to the end of the contract in 2016.
Boeing is a huge piece of the Puget Sound economy and one that is doing well. It has quietly grown its employment to almost 84,000 here — up by almost 2,000 this year. Not all are represented by the Machinists; some are in management, and the engineers are in the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. The SPEEA negotiations are still open, and will require reasonableness on both sides.
But over the years it was the company's relationship with the Machinists that felt like the labor wars of the 1940s. Two and a half years ago, at the end of a failed negotiation, the company pulled up a billion-dollar stake and marched off to South Carolina and the union went complaining to the National Labor Relations Board. That was a big, exciting, national story — and bad news for people here.
Now our region wins. The excitement is less, and the meaning much more positive.
This editorial originally said Boeing workers could earn up to 4 percent increases. Rather they can earn up to 4 percent bonuses.