Breaking News: IAM-Boeing strike is on!

From the IAM website, 3:45pm PDT Sept. 5:

The Strike Is On!

Brothers and sisters:
The strike will commence at one minute after midnight tonight. This Company disrespected the process, bargained illegally and most of all, disrespected the finest Aerospace workers anywhere on the planet by failing to meet your expectations.

Despite meeting late into the night and throughout the day, continued contract talks with the Boeing Company did not address our issues. Armed with your strong strike vote, the IAM Negotiating Committee continues to try and convince the Company to meet our members’ demands.

Your Negotiating Committee appreciates the support of all of our members during this interim time period and will appreciate your continued support as we picket the gates at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, September 6.

I want to thank the mediation service, who diligently tried to help secure a contract short of a strike to avoid hardships on our members. Unfortunately, those services did not secure an offer.

We are ON STRIKE at 12:01am tonight.

If this Company wants to talk, they have my number, they can reach me on the picket line.
In Solidarity
Tom Wroblewski
District President and
Directing Business Representative

From Dominic Gates at The Seattle Times:

BREAKING NEWS: Machinists strike is onAfter the failure of a last-ditch bargaining effort, Boeing machinists will go on strike from midnight tonight.
“The strike is on,” said Mark Blondin, speaking from Orlando Fla., where talks between the top International Association of Machinists union leaders and Boeing executives in Orlando, Fla., failed to reach agreement and ended today at about 3:00 Pacific Time.

“We just didn’t get to a place where we could reach an agreement,” Blondin said. “”We tried to exhaust every avenue.”
“We met with the mediator last night and all day today,” he said. “There was no formal offer to bring back to the members. There’s nothing to bring back.”

At the expiry of a 48-hour extension of the contract to allow time for the Florida talks, some 27,000 workers will go on strike and production of Boeing jets will cease as machinists stream out of the plants and set up pickets at the factory gates.

About 25,000 machinists work in Boeing’s factories along Puget Sound, some 1,200 in Portland, 700 on Wichita, Kan. and about 70 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Our take:

“Going into the mediation, I thought that the gap was too wide for Boeing and the IAM to reach an agreement in 48 hours,” said Scott Hamilton, managing director of Leeham Co., an aviation consulting firm based in the Seattle suburbs. “While the gap between the 11% wage hike offered by Boeing and the 13% sought by the IAM was, I think, probably the easiest issue, the step-ups in the wage scale (six years in the Boeing proposal, three years sought by the IAM) may have been contentious.

“Health care and retirement benefits were extremely important to the union and equally so to Boeing. The IAM’s desire to limit future out-sourcing was probably a show-stopper. I think this has the makings of a long strike.”

Full story from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4:10 PM PDT.

A long story from KING5 News.


Boeing’s statement, 4:14 PM PDT:

Boeing Statement: Renegotiation Fails; Strike Called
Friday September 5, 7:14 pm ET

SEATTLE, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Boeing (NYSE: BANews) issued the following statement after mediated talks with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers concluded today without reaching agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, covering nearly 27,000 employees mainly in Washington, Oregon and Kansas:

“Over the past two days, Boeing, the union and the federal mediator worked hard in pursuing good-faith explorations of options that could lead to an agreement. Unfortunately the differences were too great to close,” said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The IAM has called for a strike to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Boeing operations in Washington, Oregon and Kansas will remain open. Employees who are not represented by the IAM are expected to report for work as normal.

During the work stoppage, Boeing will support its customers and their airplanes in service. The company will continue delivering airplanes that were completed prior to the strike, and will continue providing customers with spare parts. Boeing does not intend to assemble airplanes during the strike.

MSNBC story, 4:10 PM PDT: Strike could cost Boeing billions.

Wall Street Journal story: Labor talks fail.

Update, 6:35 PM: Boeing is holding a press conference that so far is reiterating the statement (posted above) and a recap of its “best and final offer.” Boeing has been in contact with suppliers to tell them whether to ship parts, store them at their facilities or stop producing parts. No names were mentioned.

Boeing did not identify sticking points.

Boeing did explore options but the spokesman did not know details. The future “we are interested in speaking to the IAM and we’re open to that and when we hear from them, we’ll do that. There have been no new meetings” scheduled.

That’s it for the conference.

Nothing new from the IAM at this time.

Update, 6:55 PM PDT: We just spoke with the IAM spokesperson, and it seems there is some common ground with Boeing after all. Tim Healy, the Boeing spokesman, said he didn’t have any details because he wasn’t in Florida during the negotiations there. Connie Kelliher told us she didn’t have any details because she wasn’t in Florida, either. Just as Healy could not provide any details about what was discussed and where the impasse lies, neither could Kelliher. Like Healy, Kelliher restated the IAM position.

Healy said Boeing will wait for the IAM to call; the IAM leadership said it’s up to Boeing to call, and they can be reached on the picket lines.

Countdown to Midnight for Boeing, IAM

Update, 11:50 AM PDT Sept. 5: Innovation Analysis Group has a 15 minute podcast with Jon Ostrower of Flightblogger. Ostrower is on-site at Everett and Renton and talks about what amounts to an “in-plant strike” by the IAM. Among the things Ostrower notes is that this action probably is resulting in daily missed deliveries for the 737s. We know that there were delivery delays prior to the strike vote as well.

Midnight tonight Seattle time is the deadline for Boeing and the IAM to reach an agreement to avert a strike authorized by an 87% vote of the union membership Wednesday.

Boeing’s Portland and Puget Sound units are in the Pacific Time Zone but the Wichita unit is in the Central Time Zone, while negotiations continue in the Eastern Time Zone. A Boeing spokesman said the deadline is based on the Pacific Time Zone, so it’s not clear if Wichita workers must wait to 2 AM CDT for a strike or whether they might walk out at midnight CDT. We presume Wichita would have to wait to the Pacific time zone deadline. The spokesperson for the IAM could not be immediately reached for clarification on this point. The Wichita unit has about 700 workers.

Update on the time-zone issue: Wichita, it appears, can walk off the job at midnight CDT, 10 PM PDT.

Boeing will issue a press release either at Midnight PDT or before (if a conclusion is reached). The IAM’s plans are unknown pending reaching the spokesperson.

We’ve updated our “Morning After” posting below twice this morning; any further updates today will be in this post.