Boeing: IAM votes to strike

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.

19 Comments on “Boeing: IAM votes to strike

  1. These people are [edited-no name-calling]. They follow their [edited] ‘leaders’ like sheep. The contract is a great one and they will never recover what they lose in a strike.

  2. This is an incomplete contract, filled with caveats. Throughout the negotiations, Boeing’s team has played a game that we workers are not willing to stand for, offering higher wage increases balanced out with lower COLAs.

    We are looking for a genuine increase, not a game of bait-and-switch.

  3. I’m floored by the fact that the average Boeing machinist makes $56,000. It’s no wonder that Airbus can deliver a lower priced commercial jet option. Did you know that Boeing pays 100% of costs related to education for its employees? If you aren’t happy with the pay and benefits, why not educate yourselves and move on to a position within Boeing (or any other company for that matter) that will offer the pay and benefits that you seek? If Boeing truly needs the skilled workforce that you provide, they will be forced to increase wages to avoid the turnover that will surely ensue with a better educated workforce.

  4. Well you see T. that is the problem. We aren’t sheep and it ISN’T a great contract. As for recovery you can’t recover what you never had a chance to lose. People just do not understand that.

  5. Boeing does not pay 100% of the costs related to the education of its workers. That is a lie. Anything over 5k is taxed as income and it is taken out of your paycheck which at the end of things doesn’t matter.
    Education comes second to work at Boeing. If mandatory overtime, which happens almost every week at Boeing, interferes with your school, you drop the school. If you have a choice between a final or mandatory overtime, you must take the mandatory overtime or take disciplinary action which could terminate your employment. If you don’t pass your classes while working full time with overtime, you pay for your classes, not Boeing. So Boeing puliblicly advertises that they pay for their workers education. The caveat is that they just don’t mention that you don’t get the time to use your benefits until you are laid off and then your education benefits are discontinued.
    The average Boeing machinist worked 6 weeks unpaid training to make 12.72 an hour.

  6. Seems like Boeings tactic these days is to pretend to listen, get it completely wrong and then expecting everybody to bend over backwards for them while they “try to understand what is wanted” from them.

    First the tanker, now the union.

    Problem is that I doubt very few politicians are going to bail them out of this mess that they have gotten themselves into.

    But I must also wonder about the union leadership. Surely they did not postpone a legally voted strike (what are the legal ramifications there?) based on a mediator and a Governor asking them “please don’t do that”?! If there was no clear cut promise from Boeing that the offer would be improved upon, they appear to be very foolish an naive to have agreed to this postponement.

    Unless they knew that Boeing would not sweeten the offer. Knowing this would really get the membership wound up and guaranteeing a long and bitter strike. Not to mention costly for both company and union.

  7. Pingback: Morning after IAM Strike Vote « Leeham News and Comment

    UNIONS are the reason that jobs are leaving this great country . UNIONS are UNAMERICAN . and should be illegal. NOW after hearing about them turning down boeing offer , i support all jobs leaving the US

    BYe the WAY i work for BOEING IN ST LOUIS and am very PROUD to be NON-UNION

  9. Doug 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.”

    Can somebody please explain what Dougie (bless him) was doing in the same room with the IAM since May? Was he a) reading a book, b) listening to his Ipod, c) looking out of a window or was he supposed to be sitting there ‘listening and understanding what the issues are’?
    Either he got horribly confused with this whole negotiating business or he is trying out a new, ground breaking technique. If it’s the latter… good luck!!!

    Totally agree with jaypee, there is a worrying pattern developing here.

  10. As a machinist, Im waiting for my $27ph as reported by the Boeing PR (edited- profanity] machine, as for a 100K Sir, Oh to dream it will take me three years to earn that if I’m lucky. After the Feds and Cost of Living in WA I am to keep a roof over my head and to provide food for myself. Boeing we are coming for you, and its going to hurt you bigtime. We helped when the cupboard was bare, now you expect more with our new CEO getting 22 million to walk thru the door in Chicago. To hell with you, the still screwed up world partner designed Crapliner, and your bonuses, I want a livable wage, where I can afford to occasionally go to the movies, maybe treat myself to something nice, and have a family life that you rob me of by enforcing overtime. Im not greedy nor am I asking for much compared to the corporate sleeze machine you feed with fat bonuses for the old boys club.
    Ethics is a word devoid at the top of the food chain, where the likes of Carson and Kight feed off the hard work we put into the company to make the worlds finest aircraft and aerospace products.
    No new offer says Kight, [edited] because the way the mood is on the shop floor. [edited].

  11. Darin, if unions are responsible for companies moving jobs overseas, how do you account for the non-union jobs that are moving overseas by the hordes?Your “average boeing employees pay” is way off the mark pal. I’ve got eleven years on the job and don’t make anything near that amount even with the overtime. And why should anyone with eleven years on the job have to work all the overtime they can to make ends meet?
    What’s going on is CORPORATE GREED! They are moving overseas to balloon their bottom lines, pure and simple , while at the same time they attempt to convince everyone that we are the greedy ones. Looks like they have succeeded in convincing you to drink the corporate kool-aid. What’s going on in this country today is a war being waged against the middle class. A struggle between the haves and want more and those just trying to maintain a descent standard of living.
    Shame on you!

  12. Oh, and by the way Darin, unions were born in this country through the democratic processes of court rulings, legislation and written law, all of which are uniquely American. You need to get informed and educated before you recklessly spout your [edited] born out of ignorance. And I guess I can assume that when you say you support all jobs moving out of the U.S. that includes your own?

  13. A REMINDER to everyone: we recognize that this is a highly emotional issue, but tone down the rhetoric. A few of the recent posts are getting a bit close to the line for what this column will tolerate. As you will see, some of the posts have been edited as it is and we’ve declined to allow one other post to appear because of the over-the-top nature of the rhetoric contained within it. Do not get personal with previous posters. Debate the issues, challenge the “facts” as respective posters see them and render opinions, but do not cross the line into personalities. We will edit out remarks, decline to post them or delete them as we (in our sole discretion) deem fit.

  14. You all must know that when this is all said and done Boeing will give out very nice bonuses the most ever but not all at the same time and it will be made from whatever they saved from both contracts IAM AND SPEEDA and what they plan to make from the stock when it goes back up after the strike is over. Boeing will make 4x’s or more what is planned to loose here and write off the other on taxes. So right now all I see is the union workers loose BIG ALL OVER.

    This is why when they go back to work OT will be their friend for a month then anyone that can’t take the time off will loose their job. With any raise the UNION will raise the DUES. So by the time they get any money it may have SOME extra on the pay check. Also why would the UNION ask for 13% when the people should get over 16%? If the you can see it you should ask for it. Its really not the money only but jobs if the UNION let the jobs go they would not have a job. WORKERS ARE PAWNS IN THIS FIGHT and how many will loose. I’d like to know why if you start to meet in May and by August 29th no one has any Idea whats going on?

    I have no idea what was said in the talks but I’ll say this the last 2 WEEKS of August Boeing MANGERS had meetings with the workers to show the deals where good for all but this is 2008 not 1978 and the money is here now not like back then. The UNION never said anything until the vote why? Most of the workers like the job that they have and like to be working but Boeing should know that A HAPPY WORKER IS A GOOD WORKER. Lets see if this works if you make the worker happy that makes the best planes in the world then you can make more money from them but if you continue to milk the worker like a cow you will have some bad milk most of the time. Boeing needs to make the people happy now or you will loose some of the best workers in the world and have a lot of bad milk.

    I feel that Boeing had planned this and the union let it happen most people can and will be ok but for the ones who has this only check with kids its not going to be too kind for them more then 20% of the workers need this job the union and Boeing knows it. Boeing needs to balance the books and let the workers have it and the Union should not ask for any more dues. If not there will be some bad milk in everyones cup for a very long time and the longer it takes the worse it going to be.

    ” HOW CAN YOU SHOW CARDS ON THE TABLE AND PLAY FOOTSIE UNDER THE TABLE”. Boeing has the money to sit on its hands for 80 days or more but can the worker do it? IAM what will you get after this is all done? If I’m wrong sorry but if I hit it out the park sham on you both for playing the workers like pawns in your game. Get this done now before Airbus buys Boeing too. Now that I have said all of this I’d like to see whats going to happen.

  15. If you wish for sympathy to your cause, may I suggest you leave the new Cadillacs and gas hog, tricked out vehicules at home whenyou come to the line? Doesn’t say much for your NEEDs. Those engineers that spent thousands of dollars of their own money getting an education, and are driving their 35 mpg beaters to work just aren’t going to to have much sympathy for you.
    Complaining about overtime, wages, COLA, lackof security, the very things into which you bought when you signed the employment papers doesn’t justify a need. It is a want. The companies goal is to remain competitive and profitable. Some airline employees have taken 50% pay cuts over the past couple of years, and you complain about the money this contract offers. I suggest you understand what globalization has come to mean, not only for the company, the country, but you. As much as your would like to think your union has the clout it once did, it does not. In the end, the longer you hold out, the more you will lose in the long run. It’s a fact of the life. The world is changed, and any thought that you can stop the course of that change is being fool hardy. The answer to the question, “for whom do you work,” is Boeing. It is not, Boeing works for me.
    I wish you the best, but suggest you do something to make your own good luck. reasonable and fair…not more and more.

  16. I hear the stories and read the signs which claim that Boeing has unfair labor practices and think to my self, REALLY? What could be more unfair than being paid for 40 hours of work when you only accomplish 12? (How many IAM workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? 12. one to retreive the light, one to carry the light, one to get those two guys coffee, one to check the quality of the light, one to get the ladder, one to get those two guys coffee, one to retrieve the light from the inspector, one to transport the light to the place of installation, one to get those two guys lunch, one to posistion the light in the socket, one to hold it for 45 minutes while the guy who twists it takes a break, and finally the one who actually twist the light.) The fact of the matter is, Every one who has been a machineist at Boeing longer than 8 years is over paid.

    From the figures I have seen, the average salary is 54,000 to 56,000 dollars a year before overtime, around 66,000 including overtime, mind you this is not including heathcare, pension, VIP Match. You should count your lucky stars you are being paid so well for having nothing more than a High School Education. And you are asking for increases which will result in earnings topping 68,000 before OT, 77,000 with? How much harder are any of you working now compared to three years ago. Your greed and sense of entitlement is disgusting.

    You claim you are an honest hard working American. America was built by people who were selfless, by people who strived to better themselves, by people who were willing to contribute to the greater good. If you want better wages, make the sacrifice to struggle through working a full work week, some over time, and a taking college classes. Boeing does more than most companies by providing you the oppurtunity for a paid education. You say that it is hard to make the time, Improving your situation is not supposed to be easy.

    You must (well, you don’t have to, I guess) realize that you are part of an institution whose sole goal is to turn a profit. You want ridiculous raises and language in your contract which restricts the offloading of jobs to partners. To use a cliche, you want to have your cake and eat it too. You don’t get both. Boeing does not have to answer to you, they have to answer to their share holders (the people who spent their well earned dollars to own a portion of a company). By asking for the amount you are, and asking for Boeing to restrict offloading, you are doubling the demands on Boeing. It does not make financial sense. But, you don’t care. Remeber though, what’s good for the geese is good for the gander.

    Perhaps, if their were more college educated people among your ranks, you would realize the economical implications of what you ask for. Beoing is able to offload work because there are people who are willing to work for the wages and benefits they are being offered. Furthermore, if there was a vision greater than the next three years, you might realize that it would be more beneficial to not try to bully Boeing into offering more than is deserved just because you have them between a rock and a hard place. Come next contract talks, Boeing might just be caught up on the 787, where will your leverage be then? You are going to price yourselfs out of a job.

    You claim that you want to be compensated for the sucess of the Boeing company. In turn, would you be willing to take responsibiltiy when times are not so well. Would your Union be willing to take a 13% pay cut when the industry is in a downturn. I do not believe so, I do beleive you would be willing to take less. But, the fact is, you would still be taking. At what point are you willing to give. At the point you are willing to give, it will be too late, your jobs will be gone, the IAM will be no more.

    The 87% by which you voted to strike is astounding. This shows a strentgh and soladarity (in the face of ignorance). Look at Michigan, the unions there were strong, unwavering, unflappable. Mind you, they are no more. At least they still have their dignity, right? I guess, if you call dignity having your union disbanded than applying for the job you just lost and being paid 60% of what you were (with a much smaller fraction of the benefits).

    Just a quick question to all of the new hires. How do you accept a job at a cetain salary and benefits, than just with in a couple of months get offered more and decide you don’t want it? Don’t be lemmings following the next guys off the cliff. Think, be an individual, ALL OF YOU.

  17. Well I see the game is still on and I see that this will take some more time to play out. I’d like to know what would happen if this was planned and the only people that knew how this was going to play out are given them selves high fives now? I feel if the Boeing company needed a time out why ask the people to loose pay for it and why would the union let it happen? I feel that if this was a known fact they both would loose and it would not be pretty.

    I’d have to say that the money looked good but if you would just take a look at the whole thing with pin and paper you will see that the people on the lower end and the ones with kids would loose or break even. If you ask someone to pay for child care or send there kids to school knowing they need to work “OT” to make ends meet and when they get to work he or she finds out that all the mangers ,CEO got a nice bonus 6month’s after this is all over what you feel would happen? lets see if this works I feel NO manager or CEO should get a bonus before the worker and if your goals are not archived no one should get a raise or a bonus now I have done some work on this thought and if I ever had a chance to do this I would and I’d hope that some day if the union feels they can help the people they should help and not let things like this happen.

    As you can see I’d like to make sure we all can make a buck but for those who feels that it’s ok to look down on people that did not go to collage your a fool because he or she that had to raise a family on nickels is the reason your there and they can fix what you forgot and you would not even know it and if you let them go you should know that it walks out with them.

    Now you ask what is ‘it’? the knowledge it takes to work with a flawed plan comes from the bottom not the top. You come down have meetings with the worker then go back make up a updated plan from that meeting then you get the bonus and the people that really had the idea goes home to bills and you can have steak now is that right?

    Boeing is making changes to how to make a plane while the strike is on this will take a month or two now tell me if this was not planned. If you need to stop work to fix your work plan how too best do it and try to save face? Like I said before I have no Idea what was said but if you( Boeing,Union) let this continue the feelings would run deep for years to come in the hearts of the workers.

    If continue to look at the 11% check out what was not given then ask yourself how can you make it w/o OT if you have any medical issue pop up? It’s a known fact that the money is there now and will be there later too, if the worker has a clear mind to work there would be no need for OT unless the work plan has a flaw.

    Pay cuts should start from top not from the bottom and if someone works for 39 years they should not need to go on food stamps if they have a heart attack look at the whole contract not just the money in the front take care of the young worker now and the old worker later and you’ll never have any bad milk later.

    You all must understand that the workers make your world go round not the other way so stop this game and lets make some planes. If this is not fixed soon their could be a bad case of some MAD COW’S IN A GLASS SHOP.

  18. you know it has been interesting to read the opinions of those who know and those who think they know -what it takes to work at Boeing and how much the workers are over paid.
    let me start by saying that I am a Boeing employee and have been for near 20 yrs. I have worked as a mechanic and a supervisor . I have run companies prior to hiring on to Boeing and understand the needs of the business and its goal’s.
    True Boeing workers are well paid ,once they have been with the company for awhile. That pay is gotten threw hard work,blood sweat and tears not exactly the lazy b as many think it is. If you dought this just look at the number of workers who quit after just a few weeks “of easy work”or the number who go out on injury leave “weather real or not”
    Boeing has a hard time getting and keeping any skilled workers any longer due to competitive wages offered by other local employers.Which brings us to the real “wage” here in Washington.
    with companies such as Microsoft,biotechnology,banking and the “best place to live” moniker it cost a lot to live here. teachers make 35-75 grand for their jobs and go on strike constantly due to the high cost of living here too! State employees are constantly screaming for more-better health ,more money,better retirement etc. and they all are paid by the state, yet it is our tax’s that pay for them and no one seems to figure it out (I know they Pay Taxes too,but that is kind of paying your self when you work for the government now isn’t it). so lets get off our high horses and quit belittling each other and understand that
    b. for the uniformed -there are a lot of well educated and self driven machinist at Boeing who chose to do this kind of work because it is challenging and interesting
    c. the type of work we do is detrimental to our health -high stress-hard work and long hours
    d. If and when we do screw up it cost a lot to fix so nobody wants to screw up–ever! you try being perfect 10hrs a day 6-7 days a week and see how you hold up mentally and physically
    What we build is very complex and demanding,there is no room for error .our customers expect it , our company demands it and we understand this and we deliver!

    all we are asking for is a fair wage (for this market) and a means to care for ourselves in retirement and health issues- period!
    This is not an easy thing to accomplish when the company you work for has stated that they want to eliminate your job! do we want absolute job security(impossible we know) no just some real kind of mechanism that takes into account the effect on the community and families affected and compensates for this disruption to the lives involved.
    these issues might be resolved IF!
    maybe something -like
    A. if they need to outsource due to a technology not offered here in the usa or
    B.if it is part of the sale to that country, that the work be done in a shop that either is union represented or offers equivalent wages and benefits as the shop that the work was removed from .
    As for wages
    this may be too simple but,
    new hires 12.75 first 6mths
    2.00 bump at 6mths
    2.00 bump at 1 yr
    then following the std. progression for all steps to max rates. During this 1 yr phase mechanics are subject to review and termination if they do not meet the goals and level of competence set forth by the BCA group and the union .
    employees with 1 yr or more immediately progress to 16.75 and up
    a small wage increase for the progression as stated would work 11% 3 yrs
    most current (old timers) took a down grade or wage freeze for the last 10 yrs and the only adjustment was due to the C.O.L.A. and that went up and down with the index. so for those of you thinking we are rolling in money can stick it!
    (as for Boeing saying it is the best offer in the industry-WE ARE THE INDUSTRY-who else in the U.S. makes commercial airplanes wake up people)
    leave the cola as is!
    bonus -say 3000.00 a year first 2 yrs then switch to the company incentive plan with everyone else in the third yr to see how it works and maybe that would be the future contract plan !
    a signing bonus to make up for all this hassle say
    2500.00 new employees and /0r 7% of past yr earnings for us old timers who took it in the shorts for the last few contracts
    Pension’s hmmm! this is harder as it involves Boeing capitol finances and their ability to use those funds for accounting purpose’s . In a ideal situation the union would offer the workers a pension plan(they do) and Boeing would help finance the start up and then gradually build into the wages automatic payments into that fund that would eventually be a true workers pension-but that would involve a transfer of wealth from Boeing to the Union(billions over time) not very likely to happen and 401k retirements don’t look all that good seeing how corrupt our financial institutions are now so -back to square one and deal with it 80.00 so so -ok! for now

    maybe if Boeing quit playing the shell game and tried dealing straight and honestly instead of doing things like
    a. forcing people to train at their own expense and time before they can get hired for only 1200 jobs and then have it all fall apart due to bad planning by upper management and ask the iam to bail them out ,but with the caveat that after training the “new 787 only” mechanics on the fine art of actually building an airplane the new 787 mechanic would have bump back rights to the factory in case of a down turn but those hired and or already working there would not have bumping rights into the 787 program (training your replacement anybody)
    or how about down grading the shops then eliminating those higher paying jobs so you lose your rights back to that job grade !
    or when after the last strike (33000 members) the IAM took the biggest hit during reductions and was left with about 15000 members and even after all this hiring they are only at 27000 a net loss of 6000 jobs my friends at this point in time ,but we still manage to increase production to record levels (with this non skilled work force as they are called)
    AND ONCE THE 787 IS BACK ON TRACT THEY WILL ELIMINATE A LOT OF THE EXTRA PEOPLE (2000) unless we get the tanker deal,but that’s not going real well now is it and the chance that the 767 is going to be the winner doesn’t look to good in either case ,so who knows whats going to happen to all the workers who were hired recently-hope enough will old farts retire soon to keep them working-oops too many still can not afford to retire hmmmm!
    all this as they hired and added more management to oversee the new hires and made more layers of overhead (customers really love that) just adds so much to the airplane doesn’t it!
    and to add insult to injury every time that someone on high screwed up ,we the workers where the ones who had to take class’s and training ? go figure! kinda like blaming and beating the dog, when you farted!
    and lets not forget the switching medical policy in the middle of a contract without so much as a oops sorry ! gonna cost you more dont care if we have a contract or not attitude!
    It has been this bait and switch dealing with its members that have caused this issue to boil over and until the boeing company starts to live by the rules and codes it preaches they will lose more then tanker contracts and airplane orders. they will lose the respect of its workers ,its community and its customers.
    the days of corporate dominance and the AMERICAN way of life are in serious jeopardy and it is going to take work from the unions ,corporate America and our elected officials to solve these pressing issues
    Health care ,retirement and fiscal responsibility are not the domain of big business but everyone’s business. Change must happen or we will all lose!!!!

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