The members of the International Association of Machinists District 751, in a dramatic reversal of its November 13 landslide contract rejection, today approved a revised contract offer from Boeing by a vote of 51% to 49%.
Approval means Boeing will produce the new composite wings for the 777X and undertake final assembly of the airplane right here in Puget Sound (Seattle). The 777 Classic is assembled at Boeing’s Everett factory, home to all wide body assembly since it was built specifically for the 747. The 777 Classic’s
wings fuselage panels are produced in Japan and shipped to Everett for assembly to the fuselage.
The outcome was in doubt as 751 members began voting at 5am today. Rallies leading up to the vote were largely anti-acceptance. Pro-acceptance rallies were lightly attended.
Sentiment on blogs and in Comment sections of the Seattle papers overwhelmed positive comments. Reports from the field polling places suggested the contract would be rejected.
The vote secures jobs for the IAM members at the expense of ending the defined pension plan in 2016 in favor of a 401(k) approach to retirement benefits. It also extends of Letter of Understanding (#42) providing that 737 MAX and KC-46A tanker production remains in Puget Sound through 2024, to which is when the 2016 contract has now been extended.
The controversial contract may bring mixed feelings to union members, but it brings unfettered job to elected officials, the Puget Sound supply chain and other interested parties who feared Boeing would take all the 777X production elsewhere at the cost of nearly 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and huge hits to the local economy.
But make no mistake: when Boeing proceeds with a new airplane design to replace the 757, followed by one to replace the 737, we’re going to see another round of efforts to browbeat the union and the state into more concessions or give-backs in exchange for production to be located here.
The timeline for decisions for a 757 replacement should begin around 2017. Decisions for a 737 replacement should begin around 2020.