Boeing Machinists spent Labor Day off the clock and on the picket lines as their walkout entered Day 4. Mike Wojack, 47, an electrical assembler...

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Boeing Machinists spent Labor Day off the clock and on the picket lines as their walkout entered Day 4.


Mike Wojack, 47, an electrical assembler in the Everett plant’s wire shop, showed up for his four-hour picketing shift near Paine Field to the shock of union coordinators.


“They were surprised when I showed up and was on time,” said Wojack, who figured many Machinists didn’t come out because they already had plans for the three-day weekend before the strike was called Thursday night.


Wojack was eventually joined by other union members, most of whom were working their first picketing shift, and spent the morning quietly waving “On Strike” signs from street corners and trying to pass the time with conversation.


They huddled around bonfires, drank hot coffee and chatted on their cellphones to get through what turned out to be a mellow — if not sometimes boring — morning of picketing.


Occasional honks of support came from cars that passed the Machinists on Airport Road. And a few drivers flipped them off.


Led by the International Association of Machinists, District 751, 86 percent of the Machinists rejected Boeing’s contract and walked off the job for the first time since 1995. Their top issues were pension benefits and health-care costs.


Information



Machinists’ negotiations page: www.iam751.org


Boeing’s negotiations page: www.boeing.com/special/negotiations


But walking off is easier said than done, said Wojack, who has worked at Boeing since 1978. He and his wife have been scrimping since April to save up four months’ worth of house payments in the event of the strike.


“I was hoping that wouldn’t happen,” he said. “I’d rather have the money.”


Wojack estimates he is losing about $224 a day during the strike. He’s already started looking into temporary jobs at a foundry or as a security guard.


He’s not the only one with a backup plan.


Dale Davies, 45, a dock worker in the quality-assurance department since 1979, said strikes at Boeing are as certain as the arrival of Christmas.


“Who isn’t prepared for Christmas? You know it’s coming,” he said.


But what Davies isn’t sure about is his job security, and because of that, he became a licensed hypnotist about four years ago. Now he performs on stage a few times a month at parties or other events to earn extra money.


“When you’ve been here long enough, you do prepare,” he said.


But for others, preparation wasn’t an option.


Connie Rodriguez, 43, was laid off from her job as a wire-shop assembler three years ago and was hired back just last fall. She hasn’t caught up on her bills from the last bout of unemployment, and with her credit cards maxed out, she’s a little worried.


“No one is striking because of money,” she said. Instead, she wants to know she can count on a steady paycheck.


Lauren Wingender, 8, sat in a lawn chair with her brother Brian, 11, with a homemade sign that read: “I need farther education and healthy benefits.”


Her father, Mark, who works on Boeing’s military side, said he tried to convince his kids they didn’t need to come on their day off, but they insisted.


“They won’t be working here, I know that much,” he said.


Christina Siderius: 206-515-5066 or csiderius@seattletimes.com