Boeing: IAM votes to strike

Sept 3, 645PM PDT: We are at IAM HQ watching the vote count. By eyeball only, things look discouraging for Boeing.

Update, 7:30PM PDT: No vote tallies posted but eyeballing stacks continues to suggest it’s discouraging for Boeing. No information about if all the votes from outlying areas have been delivered for counting, but by this hour they should have been.

Update 7:45 PM PDT: All votes delivered. Individual table counts show 75%-80%+ for a strike.

Update 8:15 PM PDT: IAM just reported that results now expected about 9 pm.

Update, 8:45 PM PDT: IAM warming up the press room for announcing the results. Standing by.

Update, 9:03 PM PDT: Still standing by; press room filled with “On Strike” signs.

Update 9:38 PM PDT: The strike is on; the vote to strike is 87%; the vote to reject the contract is 80%; workers hit the line at 12:01 tomorrow; Boeing to hold response press conference in an hour or two.

Stunning surprise, 9:45 PM PDT: Governor’s office, mediator’s office asked IAM to extend contract, mediate; leadership agreed for 48 hours; membership is booing. They want to hit the line now. IAM lead negotiator Mike Blondin gives Boeing 48 hours to reach a deal. Crowd turned ugly on Blondin in an instant. Drowning out Blondin; cannot hear him. Blondin says we will meet with mediator and back in 48 hours. Strike is off for 48 hours.

Our take: This was an outcome that nobody predicted, and the IAM membership is irate–to put it politely–with its own leadership. Clearly Boeing miscalculated everything leading up to this vote. With the huge backlog, unhappy 787 customers and large oversales for the 737 line, it appears that Boeing has blinked–but appearances may or may not be accurate. See the Update below from the Boeing press conference.

We’re signing off and heading over to Boeing HQ for their press conference.

Update, 11:59 PM PDT: Boeing’s chief negotiator, Doug Kight, told a press conference following the vote that Boeing is responding to a request of the federal Mediation and Conciliation board to return to the bargaining table.

Kight reiterated Boeing’s belief that it offered the best contract in the aerospace industry.

“For mediation to be successful both sides have to focus on key issues,” Kight said. “The key for us will be to continue to listen and understand. We need to listen to the union and understand specifically what the issues are.” Read more

Tanker update, 9/3

DOD Buzz has this interesting report on the prospect of a split buy for the tanker competition.

AFP, the European news agency, reports DOD/USAF officials are worried another tanker protest will be filed, no matter who wins Round Three.

Reuters has this report on a USAF general urging quick action.

Update, 12:50 PM PDT, Sept. 4: In true military fashion, it’s hurry up and wait–the final RFP for the tanker has been delayed another week, according to this report in The Hill newspaper.

Update, 4:45 PM PDT, Sept. 5: DOD has tough decision on tanker

Big Week for Boeing

Update, 10:30 AM PDT, Sept. 3: IAM members are voting today. There is a last-minute flurry of activity by Boeing, IAM and the media.

KIRO Radio news: Boeing machinists voting.

KIRO Radio News: To broadcast the vote results live at 8:30pm PDT. See the URL at the top of the page.

IAM’s last minute appeal: At the main website.

Boeing’s last minute appeal and their main messaging site with a radio ad from BCA President Scott Carson and other messages.

Voting continues to 6 PM PDT; the first vote tallies are expected between 6:30 and 7 PM, and a trend may be evident with these initial results.

Big Week for Boeing

This is a big week for Boeing. Wednesday executives will find out if members of the International Association of Machinists will strike. This week the Department of Defense is expected to issue its Final Request for Proposals in Round Three of the KC-X aerial tanker competition for the USAF, and Boeing will learn whether DOD is going to give the company six months to propose a bigger airplane than the KC-767AT.

First, the IAM

The IAM votes tomorrow (Sept. 3) on whether to accept the “best and final” contract offered last Thursday by Boeing. We have been posting the Boeing and IAM positions and statements on this site, so we won’t re-link any of that information here.

Boeing took a big gamble by releasing information throughout the process. On the one hand, these trial balloons enabled Boeing to gauge reaction. On the other, some of the so-called take-aways inflamed the IAM membership and may have had the opposite effect Boeing had hoped for.

The IAM leadership recommended that the membership reject the contract and strike. Union by-laws require a two-thirds of the membership to reject the contract. Thus, if 33.34% of the membership votes to accept the contract, Boeing wins. This is what happened in 2002 when Boeing received 34% of the vote and imposed the contract then that froze salaries and had other take-aways. Some Boeing officials believe this set the stage for the 2005 strike that lasted a month. Boeing wants a majority vote this time, however, and one of the sweeteners in the contract is a bonus if 50% of the membership votes to accept the deal. Read more

Strike bound at Boeing?

Note: scroll down to see Updates as events unfold.

As we expected, the IAM leadership recommended a No vote on the “best and final” offer from Boeing, setting the stage for a contract vote and a companion strike vote September 3.

Boeing expressed disappointment with the recommendation.

By IAM by-laws, two-thirds of the membership has to vote against the contract, so Boeing could prevail with only a one-third+one “yes” vote. This happened in 2002. Boeing hopes for a majority yes vote rather than a technical win.

Here is the IAM response to Boeing’s offer.

Here is an IAM summary response to the line-by-line Boeing proposal.

Here is the link to Boeing’s full contract offer.

Here is Boeing’s YouTube video about the offer, under 3 minutes:


Here is the first of what will be many local (Seattle) newspaper stories:

Seattle Times, August 29.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 29.

Update, Aug. 30:

Here is a 7:25 minute video from the IAM dissecting its view of the Boeing offer.


Here is an IAM information sheet to its members of they vote to strike.

Here is Boeing’s message to its managers and a Q&A sheet.

Update, Aug. 31:

This might be bad news for the IAM leadership or it might be nothing. In an unscientific poll underway by The Everett Herald, those voting on whether the IAM will get its 66 2/3rds vote needed to reject the Boeing contract offer have now falled to–66%. When we first saw the poll Saturday morning, 70% believed the IAM would reach the two-thirds mark required by the IAM by-laws to reject the contract. By the time we talked with Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop for her story published today, the vote had dropped to 687%, with more than 500 people voting in the poll.

Neither we–nor Michelle–knows how to take the poll. It’s not scientific and there is no way to prevent anyone from voting multiple times and it’s possible for Boeing management to vote, rather than restricting the vote to the IAM membership. The general public can vote as well. But having done some polling ourselves many moons ago, on the street corner in political season, we know that the greater the numbers, even in an unscientific the poll, the more accurate it is. Thus, we think the trend for the IAM leaders is not only discouraging but also now that the Herald’s poll has dropped below the 67% level this isn’t good news for the union leadership.

More news:

Seattle Times. Strike has big risks for Boeing.

Everett Herald. Some union members welcome strike.

Back to the tanker

A few interesting stories today on the USAF tanker saga:

Business Week: Boeing’s tanker challenge.

Reuters: US arms buyer faults Boeing. This story quotes a Jacques Gansler of the University of Maryland who now sits on the Defense Science Board. If memory serves correctly, Northrop Grumman partially funded a study at the U of M Gansler oversaw on the tanker. No mention of this is in the story.

Note: Be sure and check out updates to posts below on the 787 and the best-and-final offer.

Update, August 31:

The Tacoma News Tribune has this long analysis on the tanker and whether Boeing should press on.

And now about Airbus

Boeing has dominated the news in recent weeks because of the tanker and the IAM contract negotiations. At long last, here’s some news about Airbus.

The company is actively talking about stretching the A380-800 to a -900, 1,000 passenger version. A new intereview with Louis Gallois, CEO of Airbus parent EADS, looks at 2010 as when this program might be launched. The story is here. Meanwhile, delivery of Emirates Airlines’ second A380 is delayed.

For all those Airbus-Northrop critics who whine about the prospect Northrop (the prime contractor, let’s remember) won’t protect and honor US restrictions on selling the KC-30 or its components to nations hostile to US interests, here’s a Reuter’s story about how Airbus won’t sell airliners to Syria as long as sanctions are in place.

Pratt & Whitney shipped its P1000G Geared Turbo Fan engine to Airbus for installation on an A340 test bed, according to this Flight International story. Airbus is considering offering the GTF on its A320 family.

Update 8:40 AM PDT, Aug. 29: EADS says there are no current discussions underway with Syria for a large Airbus order. The operative word in the statement is “currently.”

787 first flight: up in the air, so to speak, suggests IAM

During a podcast conducted Wedesday with the IAM by Innovation Analysis Group about the contract negotiations between Boeing and the IAM, an IAM official ended the 16 minute podcast with the suggestion that Boeing may have to reevaluate its schedule for the first flight of the 787.

At the Farnborough Air Show, 787 program chief Pat Shanahan told Bloomberg News that the first flight was expected for November; schedules provided suppliers still currently list the first flight for the end of October.

The IAM official, when asked if November (Shanahan’s Farnborough prediction) was still likely, the official responded that he believes Boeing will have to reevaluate this timetable. Off-line, the official confirmed that this was exclusive of any potential strike.

We queried Boeing today about the IAM prediction, and the response from corporate communications was that the schedule for “the fourth quarter” has not changed. The spokesman on the 787 program declined to respond specifically to the November date referred to by Bloomberg (this spokesman was not at the Farnborough Air Show and did not hear Shanahan’s comments).

Chatter is becoming increasingly frequent that first flight may be in December toward year-end–which is still the “fourth quarter” published by Boeing.

Update, 6:50 AM PDT, Aug. 29: Business Week has this piece about the cost of the Dreamliner being $2bn more than expected due to the delays. See also today’s updates under Boeing’s best-and-final offer posting below.

Final Offer Issued; Boeing to bypass IAM leadership

Boeing just posted its Best and Final Offer to the IAM in the contract negotiations, and it’s going to bypass the IAM leadership and take the offer directly to the IAM membership for approval. The vote is September 3.

Here is the 7-page offer.

Here is a 14-minute podcast with the aerospace reporter from The Seattle Times, Dominic Gates, completed just before noon PDT today, immediately prior to the Boeing offer being posted. His insights are particularly noteworthy.

Update, 06:40 AM PDT, Aug. 29: Here are early news stories, with some IAM reaction to Boeing’s “best-and-final” offer.”

First, from the local Puget Sound area press:

Seattle Times: Early reaction negative.

Seatt Post-Intelligencer: A good piece with an overview of the situation.

The Everett Herald, also with a recap.

From national media:

Business Week: 787 cost overruns of $2bn may have influenced Boeing’s offer to IAM.

Bloomberg News: IAM reviewing offer line-by-line.

The IAM’s first reaction–posted at 2 in the morning August 29–may be found on the IAM website here. A full IAM recap and recommendation appears to be coming Saturday. A summary is expected late Friday (today).

Boeing’s final offer today (8/28)

Boeing submitted a new proposal to the IAM union, taking two of three “deal-breakers” off the table, according to this report from Dominic Gates at The Seattle Times. Here is the Boeing offer.

Update, 2:20 PM: The IAM response is here. They are less than impressed.

Update, 3:45PM: Here is a 13 minute podcast with Addison Schonland, Scott Hamilton and Michele Dunlop, the aerospace reporter for The Everett Herald, discussing the Boeing-IAM contract issues.

Update, 12:15 PDT, Aug. 27: We found this IAM video response to Boeing’s Tuesday offer.


Update, 135 PD PDT, Aug. 27: Innovation Analysis Group/AirInsight has a 16 minute podcast with an official of Boeing’s union, the International Association of Machinists. There is an open invitation to Boeing to participate in a podcast, which so far has been declined. Separately, Boeing plans to commence a radio and print advertising campaign beginning after submitting its “best and final” offer to the IAM either Thursday or Friday, for the period running up to a possible strike vote on September 3. If the IAM rejects the contract proposal by at least a 66.1% vote on the 3rd, the strike could begin at 12:01 am September.

Update, 8:00 PM PDT, Aug. 27: Columnist Bill Virgin of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer takes a serious if slightly irreverent look at the negotiations in this column. The IAM gives its own take on its counter-offer at its negotiation website. Boeing’s response will likely be forthcoming Thursday (the 28th) or Friday (the 29th).

Update, 6:15 AM PDT, Aug. 28: The Seattle Times reports that Boeing’s final offer will be made today.

The IAM negotiation website is here.

Boeing’s negotiation website is here.

Predictable and disappointing

Northrop Grumman’s opposition to granting Boeing’s request for a six month response time instead of 45-60 days for the re-bid on the KC-X competition is predictable and disappointing.

Boeing also threatened to no-bid the contract if it doesn’t get its way on the request.

As readers know, we have always felt the KC-30 was the more capable airplane for the KC-X than the KC-767 offered by Boeing. We’ve sided with Northrop on any number of issues during the competition. But not this one, as we opined on August 22.

Northrop believes that Boeing is stalling on the bet that the Democrats will increase their majorities in the House and the Senate in the November election, and that this will increase Boeing’s sympathy in Congress. We have no doubt this is part of the Boeing calculus. So what? EADS decided to locate the KC-30 production facility in Republican Alabama at a time when the Republicans controlled Congress. That was hardly a coincidence. Politics have permeated this process from the start and while there is plenty of reason to stop now, that’s not going to happen.

Boeing, in its political gambit, is taking a risk that falls into the “be careful what you ask for category,” however. While it seems certain Democrats will increase their majority in Congress, it’s hardly a sure bet today that they will win the White House. Sen. John McCain is giving Barak Obama a run for his money and if McCain wins, this won’t be good news for Boeing.

We see no harm in giving Boeing the six months. We think both sides will produce a better bid, and that’s good for taxpayers.

Meantime, Steve Trimble at Flight International has an interesting take on his blog about how the re-bid can flip-flop some of the suppliers.

Update, 09:15 AM PDT Aug. 26: Innovation Analysis Group does a six minute podcoast with an Israeli reporter discussing Israel’s plan to update its aerial tanker fleet. The air force could use the KC-135/707 for another 20 years if necessary, but it really wants to buy the same aircraft used by the USAF.

Update, 2:30 PM PDT Aug. 26: So far, no final RFP has emerged from DOD; it was thought that it might be issued yesterday. We’re picking up rumblings that it may not come out this week.

Update, 350 PM PDT Aug. 26: Reuters now reports the final RFP may be issued next week.

Update, 12:00 PDT, Aug. 27: The St. Louis Post Dispatch has this piece looking at the strategic implications of the tanker competition.