*Note- Due to a technical problem with the website hosting for this site, the full text was not fully published until this morning. My apologies.
Earlier this evening Boeing union machinists in Everett, Washington voted narrowly in favor of a new contract extension that ensures the construction of Boeing’s 777X airliner will stay in Washington state.
In a tight vote with a slim margin of 51 percent voting in favor, Boeing’s machinists union voted to accept a contract extension from Boeing that cuts machinists’ pension and healthcare benefits.
The machinists union which represents 31,000 Boeing workers in Washington state, was faced with the prospect of Boeing relocating the production of Boeing’s popular 777 X to another state unless the union was willing to accept the terms of a scaled back contract extension that reduced their benefits package and led to a division among many Boeing machinists at a time when profits are soaring high at Boeing’s Chicago corporate headquarters.
The new contract extension runs for eight years from 2016 through 2024 and guarantees no strikes for a full decade.
The contract increases employee health care premiums and copays while freezing pensions for current employees and eliminating them for new hires beginning in 2016.
In return, machinists will be adopting a 401K benefit plan that has defined employer contributions.
Jim Bearden, an administrative assistant for the union’s IAM District 751, said in a press conference tonight that the their goal will be to ensure that Boeing lives up to its commitments to its workforce and keep jobs in Washington state.
“Our members have spoken and having said that this is the course that we will take. No member liked this vote or the position we were put in by the company, nor was it any easy vote for anyone to cast” Bearden said.
State politicians in Washington state have made already secured generous tax concessions for Boeing to keep Washington jobs from being relocated to other states.
On November 12th Washington Governor Jay Inslee approved the largest state business tax break package in history by giving Boeing and its suppliers an estimated $8.7 billion in tax breaks lasting until 2040.
Governor Inslee spoke favorably about the outcome of the machinists approval vote earlier this evening.
“Tonight, Washington state secured its future as the aerospace capital of the world,” Governor Inslee told reporters.
“Tonight Washington showed the world that we can design our future and we look forward to seeing the jetliner of that future take off and help build a Washington that works for everyone” Governor Inslee said.
Boeing released a statement this evening about the machinists’ decision.
“Thanks to this vote by our employees, the future of Boeing in the Puget Sound region has never looked brighter,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.
“We’re proud to say that together, we’ll build the world’s next great airplane—the 777X and its new wing – right here. This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology, while sustaining thousands of local jobs for years to come.”