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Machinists vote for jobs, approve Boeing contract

The following was distributed by Machinists District 751 at 9 p.m. tonight:

SEATTLE (Dec. 7) — Machinists Union members have approved a four-year contract extension with the Boeing Co. that ensures the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.

The final vote was 74 percent to accept the extension, union officers said. More than 31,000 union members in Washington, Oregon, Kansas and California were eligible to vote.

“This agreement represents a historic moment in changing the relationship between this union and the Boeing Co.,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle. “For the first time, company executives are committing to you to keep work in Puget Sound.”

“This agreement shows the collective bargaining process is flexible enough to adjust with the times,” said Wroblewski. “The process allowed us to be creative and produce a win-win for everyone – our members, Boeing, airline customers, and the community. This is a vote of confidence for job security and a stronger future for this region.”

The agreement extends the current contract, which was set to expire in September 2012, another four years.

The biggest benefit to the contract was the commitment to job security, Wroblewski said.

“As a result of this vote, we have the strongest commitment to the future of aerospace jobs in Washington State that we’ve ever had,” he said.

The new contract also creates a new, top-level joint council of union and company leaders that will meet monthly to pursue opportunities and work together to solve problems.

“This committee has agreed to four mutual objectives, and first among them is this: creating and sustaining good-paying jobs with benefits,” Wroblewski said. “Thanks to your vote on this contract extension, that now is one of the Boeing Co.’s stated goals.”

Under the terms of the extended contract, Machinists will receive:

  • 2-percent wage increases in each year of the contract, plus additional cost-of-living adjustments;
  • A new incentive plan that will pay out up to 4 percent each year;
  • Increases to the formula for calculating pensions, plus a continuation of the current 401(k) savings plan with a company match, plus a commitment to preserving pensions for new hires;
  • A $5,000 ratification bonus, which will be paid on Dec. 15.

In exchange, union members agreed to pay higher medical premiums starting in 2013.

Boeing and the Machinists Union have clashed in the past, Wroblewski acknowledged. But with the ratification of the contract extension, the two sides are now committed to working together.

“It’ll be a big shift; that we both need to embrace. But we must do this,” he said. “Because it’s obvious that we as union members cannot prosper if the Boeing Co. isn’t successful, and we’ve seen quite clearly that Boeing’s success is tied directly to the skills and experience of our Machinists Union members.”

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