Boeing Grounds Negotiation Talks

August 30, 2002 ( - Boeing has refused to comply with a federal mediator's request to sit down in Washington with the Machinists' union to pursue resolution of their labor contract.

“There is nothing left to negotiate,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union had agreed to report to Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss the contract.  The FMCS had summoned the two parties since the likelihood of a resulting strike threatened to “cause a substantial interruption of commerce.”

Request, Not an Order

In a statement , Boeing described the FMCS notice as “a request – not an order,” and said while the aircraft maker respects “the role of the federal government, we are disappointed that the union has decided to seek intervention by the FMCS into a private labor matter at this critical juncture.”  Boeing went on to note that the federal mediator was present during the final 13 days of negotiations, and that the move “undermines the integrity of the collective bargaining process.”

The company went on to note that “The Boeing negotiating team has done everything possible and within reason to craft an offer that is fair, competitive, and respectful of the concerns of our IAM-represented employees.”

The machinists were already voting on the Boeing offer when the FMCS announcement was made public.  However, in the wake of pending discussions in Washington, the IAM had said it would seal the ballots without counting them Thursday night.

“Best and Final”

In it’s “best and final” offer to the International Association of Machinists (IAM) on Tuesday, 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. 

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.

Since Boeing has laid off so many workers in recent years, the remaining machinists, whose average age is 47 with more than 20 years experience, are understandably concerned about their pensions.