Machinists reject Boeing ‘best and final’ counteroffer

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Updated: December 12, 2013, 5:40 PM

 

SEATTLE — Boeing on Thursday presented what it called a final counterproposal to the Machinists union in their negotiations to keep much of the work on a new 777X jet in the Puget Sound region, and a company spokesman said union leaders rejected the offer.

A union spokesman did not immediately return calls for comment.

The Machinists last month rejected a proposed eight-year contract for the 777X work, in part because it would have replaced workers' traditional defined-benefit pension with a defined-contribution savings plan.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the revised proposal presented Thursday included previously proposed "changes

to the way members earn future retirement benefits," meaning a defined-contribution plan, but it withdrew an earlier proposal to dramatically slow wage growth for new hires. The new offer would have kept in place the current rate at which employees rise to the top of the pay scale.

"We've listened to the union leadership and had an open dialogue in hopes of moving toward each other," Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the offer, which would have ensured this great airplane for the Puget Sound region, was immediately rejected by the union leadership."

The union and the company reopened talks Tuesday, which was also Boeing's deadline for other states to submit proposals to build the new jet. The company said it has received proposals from 22 states eager for the jobs.

"No more talks are planned," Alder said in a brief telephone interview. "We consider them to be over for now. Our focus is on moving forward in the site selection process."

On top of the previously offered $10,000 signing bonus, employees would have received an additional lump sum bonus of $5,000 in Boeing's counterproposal, Alder said.

The company would have committed to placing final assembly of the 777X, as well as the fabrication and assembly of the airplane's composite wing, at a Boeing location in the Puget Sound area. In addition, a separate agreement committing to final assembly of the 737 MAX at the Renton site would have been extended through 2024.

The union did not provide details of the proposal it presented this week.

"We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state," Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751, said earlier.

After the Machinists rejected the initial proposal, Boeing immediately began soliciting bids across the country. Lawmakers in Missouri held a special session to approve incentives in hopes of landing the 777X work. Boeing said Thursday that many states submitted multiple sites for consideration. The company said 54 sites are being evaluated.

In own bid to win the 777X jobs, Washington state recently approved tax breaks for Boeing valued at $9 billion over the coming years.