By Bryan Corliss
Aug. 3, 2022, © Leeham News: Machinists Union members working for Boeing’s St. Louis-area defense plants today ratified a three-year contract with the company.
The vote means that Boeing will avoid a strike that would have shut down production of new T-7 trainers for the U.S. Air Force and MQ-25 Stingray refueling drones for the U.S. Navy.
Members of International Association of Machinists District Lodge 837 on July 24 had rejected an earlier offer from Boeing with a 91% no vote, with 94% of members voting to go on strike Aug. 1.
That prompted Boeing to go back to the table over the weekend. It came up with a new offer that added an $8,000 ratification bonus, with the option for workers to take that in cash or as a contribution to their 401(k) retirement funds.
That, apparently, made all the difference.
“These 401(k) enhancements are a great start toward building a retirement savings plan that will provide a well-deserved retirement,” said IAM General Vice President for Aerospace Mark Blondin.
Our back-of-the-envelope math estimated union workers would gain about $4,000 for their retirement accounts with the latest offer, compared to the one they rejected on July 24.
The union also touted an average 14% increase in wages over the contract’s three-year span, and the elimination of the previous two-tier wage system, under which newly hired workers were paid $9 or $10 an hour less than their longer-tenured counterparts, depending on their job.
The new contract raises individual workers’ pay by 65 cents every six months until they reach the maximum in their pay range, which still could take close to a decade.
Union officials did not release results of the voting. A simple majority was required for members to accept the contract.
The avoidance of a strike in St. Louis continues a string of good news for the company, including a solid showing with new orders at the Farnborough Air Show and a relatively upbeat earnings report last week, after years of red ink.
A strike would have delayed development of Boeing’s two new military programs, the T-7 and MQ-25. The work stoppage also would have come at a time the Pentagon reportedly is rethinking the number of F-15EX fighters it wants to buy for the Air National Guard, to replace aging F-15C/Ds in the fleet. Boeing also builds Navy F-18s and Harpoon anti-ship missiles at its plants in St. Louis and suburban St. Charles, MO, and Mascoutah, IL.