The ongoing saga between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers appears to be largely resolved. The parties have reached a tentative, four-year contract extension agreement regarding the production of the 737 MAX in Washington’s Puget Sound region.
Under the agreement, union members building the wide-body aircraft will enjoy annual wage increases of 2 percent, plus cost-of-living adjustments, and potential bonuses. What’s more, new hires will continue to receive pensions, and each IAM member will obtain a $5,000 ratification bonus.
The machinists’ union will vote on the contract-extension proposal on December 7. To pass, IAM members in Washington, Oregon and Kansas must approve it.
IAM District Lodge 751 President Tom Wroblewski, who called the proposal “extraordinary,” expects it to be ratified. In addition to “securing thousands of jobs,” he said it also increases the wages of union members.
“Hopefully, it also signals the start of a new relationship that can both meet our members’ expectations for good jobs, while giving Boeing the stability and productivity it needs to succeed,” Wroblewski said in a statement.
His remarks are vastly different from those of IAM members in March 2010, when union officials filed a complaint against Boeing to the National Labor Relations Board. They alleged that Boeing’s decision to move production of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft to a $750 million, non-unionized facility in South Carolina, instead of staying in Washington, deprived Seattle residents of work and was done out of retaliation over recent strikes.
The NLRB issued a formal complaint against Boeing one year later for allegedly violating two sections of the National Labor Relations Act. “A worker’s right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act,” Lafe Solomon, acting general council of the NLRB, said in April.
“We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law,” Solomon continued.
If the contract-extension agreement is passed, however, IAM members will drop their complaint against Boeing, and 787 production will remain in South Carolina. Officials for the aircraft manufacturer hope this agreement also puts an end to years of animosity between the two entities.
In an official statement regarding the matter, Boeing laid out its plan for resolution with the IAM. “We are hopeful that employees covered under the current contract will see the advantages in, and importance of, this agreement and the expressed desire of the company and the union to work toward mutual objectives that support both improved competitiveness and increased job opportunities,” a company press release stated.