Sept 3, 645PM PDT: We are at IAM HQ watching the vote count. By eyeball only, things look discouraging for Boeing.
Update, 7:30PM PDT: No vote tallies posted but eyeballing stacks continues to suggest it’s discouraging for Boeing. No information about if all the votes from outlying areas have been delivered for counting, but by this hour they should have been.
Update 7:45 PM PDT: All votes delivered. Individual table counts show 75%-80%+ for a strike.
Update 8:15 PM PDT: IAM just reported that results now expected about 9 pm.
Update, 8:45 PM PDT: IAM warming up the press room for announcing the results. Standing by.
Update, 9:03 PM PDT: Still standing by; press room filled with “On Strike” signs.
Update 9:38 PM PDT: The strike is on; the vote to strike is 87%; the vote to reject the contract is 80%; workers hit the line at 12:01 tomorrow; Boeing to hold response press conference in an hour or two.
Stunning surprise, 9:45 PM PDT: Governor’s office, mediator’s office asked IAM to extend contract, mediate; leadership agreed for 48 hours; membership is booing. They want to hit the line now. IAM lead negotiator Mike Blondin gives Boeing 48 hours to reach a deal. Crowd turned ugly on Blondin in an instant. Drowning out Blondin; cannot hear him. Blondin says we will meet with mediator and back in 48 hours. Strike is off for 48 hours.
Our take: This was an outcome that nobody predicted, and the IAM membership is irate–to put it politely–with its own leadership. Clearly Boeing miscalculated everything leading up to this vote. With the huge backlog, unhappy 787 customers and large oversales for the 737 line, it appears that Boeing has blinked–but appearances may or may not be accurate. See the Update below from the Boeing press conference.
We’re signing off and heading over to Boeing HQ for their press conference.
Update, 11:59 PM PDT: Boeing’s chief negotiator, Doug Kight, told a press conference following the vote that Boeing is responding to a request of the federal Mediation and Conciliation board to return to the bargaining table.
Kight reiterated Boeing’s belief that it offered the best contract in the aerospace industry.
“For mediation to be successful both sides have to focus on key issues,” Kight said. “The key for us will be to continue to listen and understand. We need to listen to the union and understand specifically what the issues are.”
Kight said the request came from the federal mediation board went toboth sides. The service keeps track of negotiations nationwide of national significance, he said.
“Our focus is on the next 48 hours. Want deal good for employees and company and to keep us competitive,” Kight said.
Kight acknowledged that pensions and health care are “tough” and “very tough” issues.
“Our job at this point is to listen to the union,” he said. Boeing is not coming to the union with another offer, he said. “We are very interested in understanding from them what are the critical view issues. We need to understand that and then see if we can take another path forward. When you get to this stage of the process we have got to narrow the issues.”
Kight said the process will include “listening to the union’s perspective where the differences are; we need to get down to the critical few. We have been talking for months and months and we need to understand what are the critical few that will make the difference and whether there will be a path forward.
“I would encourage everyone to keep a level head. We have customer commitments to meet everyday,” he said. “We just have to come together. We understand it is an emotional process and trust the process. Responding to a request from the federal mediator is appropriate.”
Our take: The union won’t be happy to hear Boeing isn’t coming to the table with a new offer, nor that the company’s objective is to “listen” and define the “critical issues.” IAM spokesperson Connie Kelliher’s response to this was, “You’re kidding?” Clearly, the union will assert Boeing hasn’t been listening and that the IAM has outlined its critical issues. We think Kight’s responses will throw fuel on the fire of resentment.