Boeing Will Meet, But Not Negotiate with Feds

September 3, 2002 ( - Managing to at least momentarily avoid a strike, Boeing said it would meet with federal mediators tomorrow after all - and the union says it will conduct a new vote of its members on the "best and final" offer.

Boeing workers had already begun voting on the new offer when an announcement that negotiators from both Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) had been invited to come to Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to discuss the contract.  The IAM agreed to go, but the vote continued.

Request, Not an Order

Boeing, on the other hand, initially said it wouldn’t comply with what it described as a “request, not an order” – saying there was nothing left to negotiate.  Boeing now says it will go to Washington to meet with the FMCS, but said it plans only to outline the background for, and elements of, what remains its “best and final” offer. 

However on Friday, Mark Blondin, president of Machinists District 751, said members had complained of confusion during Thursday’s vote.  “To ensure that every member is again given an opportunity to express their true opinion, we will revote,” Blondin said, though no date has yet been set.

Revote Notes

Boeing spokesman Chuck Cadena said the company would respect the results of a second vote and said one should be held as soon as possible, according to the Associated Press.  However, Boeing also said it will not meet with the Machinists further and will not reopen negotiations.

Union members will continue to work after the contract expires, according to union leaders.  Meanwhile, Boeing said employees are welcome to return to work under terms of the existing contract.

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. 

IAM updates are at  

Boeing updates are at