IAM Heads Home to Schedule New Boeing Vote

September 9, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Negotiators for the International Association of Machinists wrapped up talks with federal mediators Friday night, preparing its membership for a new vote on the "best and final" offer from Boeing.

The Machinist union, which represents 25,000 Boeing workers in Washington state, Wichita, Kansas, and Portland, Oregon, said it will soon schedule a new vote on the company’s offer from August 27. The IAM says it will continue to urge members to reject the proposal and vote to strike.

Home Coming

The announcement Friday night came after the nation’s top mediator, Peter Hurtgen, spent two and a half days talking with union negotiators in Washington, D.C. and phoning Boeing negotiators in Seattle.

Boeing and the IAM had come to Washington last week following a request from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), which noted that a union rejection of the current Boeing proposal in the form of a strike could have a “substantial economic impact on both parties.”  The order came while union members were voting on Boeing’s final offer.  Two-thirds of those voting would have to authorize a walkout for it to occur, and the possibility of a strike was considered likely – but the ballots were sealed by the union’s president and have not been counted.

Side “Takes”

In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe it’s time to move forward with a fair and democratic re-vote as promised by the union. This next step would be in the best interest of everyone with a stake in the outcome.”  Boeing says that while the original contract expired at midnight at the close of September 1, it will continue to honor the terms and conditions of the expired contract, and “employees continue to be welcome to work.”

On Saturday, a statement from Tom Buffenbarger, International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said, “We will take their “last, best and final offer” that we know for a fact was none of the above. We will tell our members where Boeing had agreed to make changes, and what changes the IAM negotiators had proffered. And we will let the membership decide if the company’s “firm, firm, firm” offer should be rejected.”

Buggenbarger said that if the IAM were to go on strike, it would save Boeing $28.1 million in payroll costs – per week.

IAM updates are at http://www.iam751.org/

Boeing updates are at http://www.boeing.com/special/negotiations/