Boeing Boosts Pension Proposal – But is it Enough?

August 27, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Boeing has offered to boost pension contributions - and postpone a controversial healthcare proposal - but whether that will be enough to avert a strike is still anybody's guess.

In its “best and final” offer to the International Association of Machinists (IAM), the aircraft manufacturer has offered to increase its basic pension benefit to $60 a month for every year of service in the final year of the contract, from the current level of $50/month, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter. 

 The pension benefit would rise to $58 a month in the first year of the contract and $59 a month in the second year, according to the report, citing a Boeing official.

The company also offered to defer new health-care costs until 2004.  In earlier discussions concerns had emerged that proposed changes could significantly increase worker costs.

“Short” Falls?

The pension offer is well below the $120/month the IAM had been pushing for, and only modestly higher than the $56/month offer in Boeing’s first offer that the IAM dismissed as “missed by a mile.” 

The deferral of healthcare costs could represent a significant impact.  The union says Boeing’s proposed changes would boost monthly premium under one plan to $316 from $30, while Boeing says, on average, costs would rise $350 a year – and move closer to what other Boeing workers pay.
    
Other “Benefits”

However, the offer wasn’t all about benefits.  Boeing also proposed to give the 26,000 machinists covered by the contracts an 8% signing bonus in the first year (which could average $4,700/worker, according to reports) as well as wage increases of 2% in the first year, and 2.5% in the second year of the contract.

Three years ago, Boeing and the International Association of Machinists appeared on the verge of a strike, but settled on a new contract at the last minute.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter said that, before receiving the offer, the union’s lead negotiator had said Boeing and the machinists were so divided over a new contract that employees were likely to walk off their jobs and onto the picket lines Monday.

If members reject the offer Thursday and vote to strike, they wouldn’t walk out until Monday, when the current three-year pact expires.

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