(TED S. WARREN/Associated Press)
SEATTLE The Boeing Machinists union announced a tentative deal Wednesday to build the 737 MAX in Renton, where 737s are currently assembled, and to extend the labor contract for four years.
The news came the same day the union said it reached a tentative deal to settle a contentious National Labor Relations Board dispute with the company. If union members vote to approve the agreement, the union would tell the National Labor Relations Board that it has no further grievances with Boeing.
The NLRB lawsuit against Boeing alleged the company violated labor laws by opening a new production line for its 787 airplane in South Carolina. The agency claimed Boeing was punishing Washington state workers for past strikes and wanted the company to return the work to Washington. Boeing denied the charges, saying it opened the South Carolina plant for valid economic reasons.
Boeing announced the 737 MAX in August. It will have new engines to improve fuel efficiency and compete with the Airbus A320neo. Boeing did not announce where the 737 MAX would be assembled. The state of Washington launched a campaign to retain jobs.
Boeing has more than 80,000 employees in Washington, mostly at the Renton factory and the wide-body factory in Everett.
Gov. Chris Gregoire commended Boeing and the union for an agreement that "shows a strong commitment by both sides to secure the future of aerospace in Washington state."
"Washington state is, and will continue to be, the world's premier center for aerospace known for building the safest and most innovative planes," she said in a statement. "In the last few years, I'm proud that Washington state has landed the 787, the Air Force refueling tanker, and now the 737 MAX."
Union members in Washington, Oregon and Kansas are scheduled to vote Dec. 7 on the tentative agreement. It calls for annual wage increases of 2 percent, cost-of-living adjustments, an incentive program intended to pay bonuses between 2 and 4 percent, a ratification bonus of $5,000 for each member, and improvements in the pension program.
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 751 President Tom Wroblewski said the proposed contract extension would secure thousands of jobs while raising Machinists' pay and pensions.
"Hopefully it also signals the start of a new relationship that can both meet our members' expectations for good jobs, while giving Boeing the stability and productivity it needs to succeed," he said in a statement.