By Bryan Corliss
February 19, 2019, © Leeham News: Machinists Union members who work at Cadence Aerospace-Giddens in Everett, WA, voted overwhelmingly to approve a new three-year contract with the company.
Ninety percent of those who voted Monday were in favor of the deal, according to the IAM’s District 751. (IAM 751 typically does not release vote totals in its contract elections, only the percentage voting in favor or against.)
IAM 751 President Jon Holden called the contract a “positive agreement.” The union’s negotiating committee called the deal “one members can be proud of and can continue to build upon into the future.”
The deal, which was reached during two weeks of talks with Cadence-Giddens management, included:
The union’s negotiating committee recommended last week that members accept the deal.
The contract covers roughly 125 hourly workers at two Cadence-Giddens plants in Everett, who supply machined structures, formed sheet metal pieces, subassemblies and parts kits for most Boeing programs.
The Cadence-Giddens workers are members of International Association of Machinists District 751, which is the same district lodge that represents workers at Boeing’s plants in Washington state.
The Cadence-Giddens deal gives IAM 751 some momentum as it continues talks with another Everett-area Boeing supplier, Collins Aerospace, where workers voted to join the union on March 23 of last year.
The two sides are scheduled to meet again with a federal mediator on Feb. 28.
Negotiations toward a first contract there have been more contentious. The 18 workers at the former United Technologies plant – who do final assembly on landing gear for Boeing 737s, 747s and 767s (including KC-46s for the U.S. Air Force) – staged a one-day walk-out in January, to protest what the union called unfair negotiating tactics. The union also has filed several complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the company has engaged in bad-faith bargaining.
The dynamic in the IAM’s talks with Collins is much different than what we saw at Cadence-Giddens.
For starters, a potential strike by the team that assembles landing gear for 737s – Collins’ biggest customer’s best-selling commercial jet – would be a disaster for the company. That gives the union leverage.
On the other hand, if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement within 12 months from when a union is certified as the bargaining representative for the workers, those workers are free to petition for a vote to de-certify the union. This puts pressure on unions to reach deals quickly – and also gives companies every incentive to drag their feet.
However, this kind of “surface” or bad-faith bargaining is illegal under federal labor law. The NLRB can, and often does, step in to order talks continue beyond the 12-month timeline, without a decertification vote — if it determines that the company spent a whole year trying to run out the clock, rather than bargaining in good faith for an agreement.
The complains filed by the union with the NLRB accuse Collins of doing just that. The NRLB has yet to rule.
A Collins spokeswoman said the company is “committed to continue negotiating with the union in good faith and hopes to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.” IAM 751’s Holden said his team is committed to “negotiate a contract that recognizes the contributions these workers make toward UTC/Collins’ success and reward them for their hard work and skills.”