What To Expect From The Boeing Union Vote Friday

When Boeing union members widely rejected the latest contract offer recently, it seemed to largely indicate that Boeing would move production of significant parts of the 777X out of Washington state.  The wing is the likely thing getting moved, and after the failed vote Boeing made good on its promise to seek proposals from a number of states to move these future jobs elsewhere.

At the time, Boeing was coy about whether they would come back to the bargaining table.  But, I predicted in that last post that Boeing would still likely end up keeping the work in Washington, which meant more maneuvering with the union.

The sides have gone back and forth a bit, inching closer to a mid-point.  And now, there’s a new contract to be voted on, though the union heads aren’t really supporting it any more than they did the last offer.

Since the last contract got voted down by a 2:1 margin, I still think this one is likely to fail, though by a narrower margin.  They should pass it, IMO.  The things they’re fighting for, like defined-benefit pension plans are really a relic of the past.  They did significant damage to the airlines, though much of that overall pain was self-inflicted.  I just don’t see Boeing making those types of concessions.  And, it’s worth noting that the new contract isn’t exactly bread and water:

A revised offer from Boeing early last month keeps the pension change and other key concessions, including increased health-care costs. But Boeing agreed to preserve the current wage structure that increases each member’s hourly pay by 50 cents every six months—separate from planned raises and cost of living increases—and “zooms” workers to the top of a pay grade after six years, instead of indefinitely continuing the 50-cent increases in the November offer.

50 cent an hour pay increases every six months, along with raises and cost of living increases.  Not to mention that if you stick around for 6 years they move you to the top of the pay scale.  Yes, there are negatives for the union in this proposal.  But, the union needs to understand these jobs will move elsewhere.  There are plenty of states that have unemployed and under-employed folks that would be thrilled with these jobs, and I’m sure they’d do them just fine.



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  1. I agree that the vote will probably be very close, but am cautiously optimistic that the union will vote to accept the contract. I think (hope) they understand that if they vote no, they are essentially voting to be laid off or relocated in the next 10 years.

  2. Oh, and I am still trying to figure out how in the world Boeing will be able to ship those wings from a wing assembly plant in one state to a final assembly plant in another state. They will be on the order of 105 feet long! I don’t think they would fit in the Dreamlifter as the 787 wings are only about 88 feet long… I found this photo of the 787 wings in a Dreamlifter… it looks like there might be room for 17 more feet. http://seattletimes.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2003707593.html

    Now that I see the photo, I remembered that they ship with wings without the raked tips. So maybe they will fit.

    1. Charlie, I’ve got to think that Boeing made pretty darn certain those wings fit in the Dreamliner before staring down the union, or has REALLY big plans to move assembly of the planes elsewhere (unlikely). As to the union vote, I have seen some positive sentiment towards it, though not by union leaders. I’m certain that there’s a vocal minority who are perturbed at the union chiefs for the game of chicken. I’m just not sure if that’s big enough to convince enough of the rest to ratify.

      Again, if the union understands the context of the situation, they’ll vote yes and keep their jobs. If not, I still think Boeing may come back a third time but likely with a much larger amount of leverage (tentative contracts with another state to open a new facility, for example).

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