Countdown to IAM-Boeing vote January 3; poll results; union urged to accept; no tax breaks from WA if Boeing splits work

Two third of Readers in our on-line polling this week urged IAM 751 members to accept the Boeing contract offer that contains major concessions, notably on pensions, in exchange for Boeing selecting Washington State to assemble the 777X and produce its wing here.

The unscientific polling is broad-based and not restricted to union members, and should not be considered indicative of the outcome of the vote today. Results are to be announced tonight around 9pm PST.

The polling results below are as of January 2. Voting is still open so totals may differ in the original post vs what is reported below, but voting subsided to the point where results should remain constant.

Should IAM 751 Members Accept or Reject the Boeing 777X contract?

Answer Votes Percent
Accept 366 67%  
Reject 183 33%  

Key political leaders in the Puget Sound area met Monday with Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, before meeting with the press and urging the members of IAM 751 to approve the contract.

The Puget Sound Business Journal has a detailed story, including the dire consequences if the contract is rejected.

The Associated Press has a similar story.

IAM 751 sent a letter December 23 to its members recommending a No vote and detailing why.

According to the civic leaders meeting with Conner, the BCA CEO said if the 751 members don’t accept the contract, the wing production will be sent elsewhere. According to the news reports, Conner was more ambiguous about the fuselage work and final assembly.

The Requests for Proposals Boeing issued after 751 members rejected the first contract offer on November 13 allowed for splitting the FAL and the wing production among sites. But we confirmed with Washington’s Director of Aerospace that if Boeing does this, none of the $8.7bn in tax breaks the state offered Boeing will be extended; it’s an all-0r-nothing offer.

Missouri is the only other state to go public with its tax break offer: $1.7bn from the state and $1.4bn from St. Louis County.

Texas, California, South Carolina, Alabama, Utah and Georgia are among the 22 states that offered up 54 sites to Boeing in the RFP process. North Carolina and Pennsylvania are the only ones to publicly reveal they were eliminated in Boeing’s early analysis of the RFPs.

The contract offers set off internal strife at the IAM. District 751 leaders are feuding with the IAM International leaders, who negotiated the contracts with Boeing and who have largely run roughshod over 751. Local leaders oppose ratification of the contract and the International urges acceptance. International forced the January 3 vote over the objections of the District.

But our polling also shows the District 751 leadership is in trouble. A large percentage of our Readers blame 751 leaders for the current mess and more want to see the District leaders replaced than the International heads.

A large number of Readers also believe District 751 should be decertified as Boeing’s union representation and a large number believe 751 should divorce from its affiliation with IAM International.

We understand that neither decertification nor “divorce” can occur until 2016 under the current contract, or until 2024 if the contract is Accepted and extended. One of our Readers believes that if this contract is rejected, it is possible for changes to be made this year. We don’t know the answer.

These poll results are below the jump.

What should happen at IAM next? Multiple answers allowed

Answer Votes Percent
Replace the IAM 751 leadership 137 29%  
Replace the IAM International leadership 95 20%  
Decertify IAM 751 as the union representing Boeing workers 101 21%  
IAM 751 should “divorce” IAM International 146 30%

We found the following results to be perhaps the most interesting. Despite the very public dispute between IAM 751 and International leadership, in which 751 clearly opposed both contract proposals, 751 is viewed by most as responsible for the contract when combining question results.

Who is responsible for the IAM-Boeing 777X contract?

Answer Votes Percent
Boeing 70 18%  
IAM International leadership 8 2%  
IAM 751 leadership 19 5%  
Boeing and IAM International leadership 117 30%  
Boeing and IAM 751 leadership 67 17%  
IAM International and IAM 751 13 3%  
Boeing, IAM International and IAM 751 102 26%  

15 Comments on “Countdown to IAM-Boeing vote January 3; poll results; union urged to accept; no tax breaks from WA if Boeing splits work

  1. In the end I think Tom Wroblewski will be seen in a sympathetic light, and will retire, because Buffenbarger (my spellchecker refers to him as “beefburger”) has so deeply undermined his authority and credibility. His replacement unlikely to be as congenial with any adversary.

    This vote will go down to defeat most likely, perhaps a few points closer to the center, an insufficient result given the cruel and unrelenting holiday terror campaign mounted against the machinists from every quarter.

    But had Boeing. the politicians, and The IAM international not been so heavy handed, it might have squeaked by, Instead, both chose to throw gasoline on an inferno.

    Dissecting Boeing’s letter to IAM members leads me to believe the wings were never in the cards for IAM751. Most likely, they will be built by a vendor at a co-located facility, with an outside chance of Japan or Long Beach.

    The threat of Buffenbarger imposing the contract on 751 remains. Only then would 751 consider breaking away, and it would. Just as soon as votes are cast to unseat Buffenbarger at the international. Any contract would this be nullified, and Boeing forced to negotiate a new deal with an even more militant version of 751, who at some point, if significant reforms take place at the IAM, might rejoin the national organization. My understanding is, that while there is a window for de-certification, no such constraint exists for disaffiliation.

    For Boeing and the IAM international, the worm would have thus turned. The IAM losing 31000 members in one swoop, and Boeing having to negotiate an new contract with a highly infuriated locally based version if 751, having already made it’s 777x work placement decisions.

  2. “Another important rule is the “contract bar,” which holds that petitions for a decertification election cannot be filed during the first 3 years of a collective bargaining agreement, except for during a certain 30-day “window period.” In most workplaces, the 30-day “window period” for filing a decertification petition with the NLRB occurs 60 to 90 days prior to the expiration date or 3 year anniversary of the contract, whichever comes first.”

  3. No way Boeing hasn’t already decided who’s going to build what and where.
    No way the BoD would have approved the 777X program without the industrial plan in place. This contract “negotiation” has been a farce from day 1, trying to bend 751 over and force extreme contract concessions at a time when they know 751 can’t strike all the while making record profits, paying huge bonuses to execs and announcing a $10B stock buyback “to preserve our future”
    Stock buybacks do nothing to help a company, they are the last resort of incompetent management trying to pad their own (and institutional investor’s) wallets. They pull cash out of the company that could otherwise be used for R&D, or, god forbid, rewarding the very people who produced the product that generated all that money.

    • Buybacks are important to a certain extent as many in management (doesn’t have to be the “top honchos” but middle management as well) get bonus via stock options(possibly employees get stock options as well but I’m not so sure in Boeing’s case).

      Less stocks also increase earnings per share. $10 billion might not be at one time but possibly (and probably) over a number of quarters, if not years.

      • yes, as I said, padding management’s wallets while doing nothing of value for the company.

        EPS is a meaningless number _except_ as a way to boost stock price and therefore funnel money out of the company into the pockets of investors. EPS is only one of a number of factors affecting stock price, others being forward bookings, macroeconomic conditions, and (importantly for this discussion) cash position.

        Stock Buybacks actively harms the long term prospects of the company by taking working capital out (reducing the cash position). that $10B would do a lot more for share price and company stability in the long term if it were instead invested in R&D and investing in improving the skills of and working relationship with their workforce.

        Short sighted “Stock Price Uber Alles” & “All employees are disposable” Jack Welch style management practices are destroying this country, one company at a time.

    • I’ll have to agree with both Steve and bilbo

      1) BA has already made its decision as to where at least the first 777-x derivitive will be built – Body and FAL in everett- wings still in the air (;-P ), – either japan or everett area is my guess

      2)Reason- even the BA board dare not screw up or thumb their nose at the guy with the 100 billion check – and the risks on timing and quality re using a greenfield are simply too high. However, the well demonstrated animus of Mcnearney and a few MDC retreads against unions in general, and IAM in particular may make a logical- business liker decision moot

      3) Yes- it is a shakedown of WA state. People seem to forget that IAM has mostly touch labor ( about 5 to 6 perccent of ‘ costs’ including overhead ) while engineering and office make up the other 2/3 of the labor costs- admin, office, and various other functions. .

      4) The pension deal is fubar. After all there are about 6 to 8 other unions on the same plan


      Noteworthy is the fact that in 1999- 2004- BA with PVP ( cash balance type plan ) obviously wanted workers to stay till 65 to get 100 percent benefits. Now they want the IAM types to bail out at 58. This even though many projections seem to show a significant amount of IAM and even Engineers will reach 60 or so and bail ( BCERP pays 100 percent at age 60- currently ). Of course the ACA has major effects.

      5) The mantra re “pension cost ” is a steaming pile.


      Consider that by freezing – the concept I show in my earlier plot ( 2008) of Joe Lunchpail- ( how to make money on layoffs- and now freezing plan -especially for short timers at time of freeze ) almost seems like deja vue all over again



      6) And then of course IMHO- either way the vote goes WILL wind up in NLRB- Admin Law judge area- possibly also in DOL ( separate agencies and not normally part of DOL ) as to contract terms and or resulting ERISA ( DOL) issues.

      IF I am correct on the above – BIG IF- very BIG IF – then a YES vote would have some interesting effects. Supposedly BA would ‘ break ground’ locally on wing, and put into motion the ‘ local ‘ assembly of 777-x-1. The court issues would take maybe a year. So what happens IF the vote and the Pension issue become essentially void ? Fubar doesn’t come close

      7) For the rest of the story to get some FACTS

  4. This is unfortunately turning out bad for the mighty Boeing and good for the bean counters and ‘investors’…not good for the the Great USA 🙁

  5. Isn’t “the Optics” like the most abstruse possible way of conveying that you mean “a description of what is going on”? I swear, the English language gets less useful every year…

    • In current use – Optics means ‘ it LOOKS like something is going on ” when in reality something ELSE is happening ” Try we go for the Sizzle – not the steak !

  6. I detest the term “tax break”. It is really corporate welfare. The state ends up with that much less money and the company ends up with that much more, no different than if money had been directly transferred.

  7. How large/ small are chances of the wing being build in California/ Longbeach?

    As an outsider I see Boeing under pressure to get the 777X online ASAP and with minimal risk. (Airbus is taking large chuncks out of Boeings 300-400 seat long haul market). Transferring the line is massive risk they will try to avoid.

    When Boeing is going to build the 737 replacement are options Re location are open.

  8. Geez, if Boeing can move the 777 line, you’d think they could muster the resources to design a new 737 nose section. Oh no, better to spend the money to play musical chairs. I’m so sure.

  9. I support a NO vote on this contract. The board of directors chose to make this a fight instead of ” Working Together”. Instead of negoiating and exploring other options to gradually moving away from the pension, they use threats. If younger employees want a 401k type plan let them move over to it, let those that want to have a pension keep it. New hires would probably be the bargaining chip. The timing of the vote also raises red flags, if they can’t wait 4 more days or so to let all members return from the holidays, they’re not very good leaders/managers (or maybe they’re just #&%@#^$’s).

    To our local folks that think we should vote yes, we would still have many years to ween ourselves from Boeing. Maybe our elected officials will finally start on that. Maybe they’ll throw their pensions out for a 401k style plan.

    Emirates Airline president Tim Clark opined.

    ” I did speak to Ray Conner and said ‘in my humble opinion, please do not do to the 777X what you did to the 787’. In my opinion it would be better produced in the U.S. in the areas where you have a dynastic skill set,”

    Cool phrase……….’DYNASTIC SKILL SET’ (sounded like a loud statement to me)

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