The head of the IAM 751 union, Tom Wroblewski, faced tough questioning at the District’s regularly scheduled meeting last night and appears to have calmed at least some dissenters who were sharply critical of his actions in connection with the controversial Boeing contract offer earlier this month that was voted down by a 2-1 margin in a hasty balloting.
Members of the 751 District provide the touch labor for all 7-Series Boeing Commercial aircraft except those 787s built in Boeing South Carolina. Boeing offered a contract to 751 that provided for steep concessions in exchange for locating the 777X assembly in Everett (WA) without a competition for the work. After the contract was rejected, Boeing immediately began talking with other states and has since issued Requests for Proposals to 15 parties. The deadline for response is mid-December, followed by a decision early next year.
The turmoil within IAM 751 and between 751 HQ and IAM International, which led the negotiations that crafted the controversial contract proposal, has raised questions about who is in charge at the IAM: International or 751. Boeing said it has “no plans to re-engage” 751 before the current contract expires in 2016, but observers of Boeing note that the company is very careful about parsing its word. “No plans” isn’t definitive, like “it will not.” “Plans” can change, observers note.
Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was quoted from the Dubai Air Show that “the ball is in IAM’s court.”
Observers believe the “no plans” and Conner’s “court” statements leave plenty of opportunity to new negotiations. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is urging both sides to resume negotiations.
The scenario that is viewed as most likely is Boeing won’t talk with the IAM until after the RFPs are submitted–assuming there isn’t some blow-out deal offered by some state that tops Washington’s $8.7bn deal.