Hundreds of Machinists rallied Thursday afternoon in Seattle to urge their union co-workers to reject Boeing’s contract offer.
Addressing a rowdy crowd that chanted “Hell no,” Wilson Ferguson, president of the union’s Local A and a flight-line mechanic at Boeing, said Friday’s vote is a time to “beat back the evils of management once again.”
He and other Puget Sound-area members of the International Association of Machinists District 751 urged attendees to pick up their phones and get on Facebook and Twitter to spread their call for a vote against the contract proposal.
After union members rejected the first version of Boeing’s contract offer by 2 to 1 on Nov. 13, local union leaders met with the company and received a new offer — but quickly declared the revised version was not improved enough to warrant a new vote.
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However, the union’s national leaders, going against District 751 President Tom Wroblewski and other local officials, scheduled a new vote for Jan. 3.
The company’s latest contract offer still would freeze the Machinists’ traditional pension plan and replace it with a 401(k)-style retirement-savings plan. But the company dropped its earlier proposal to dramatically slow the rate of wage growth for new hires.
“If I don’t have a pension with Boeing, I’m going to have to find a new job,” said Kenda McKinzey, a 747 worker with more than six years at Boeing.
The rallying workers — a mix of men and women, new hires and longtime workers — were joined by representatives of local grocery workers, Teamsters and firefighter unions.
Boeing has said it will build the 777X plane and composite wing in Washington if the Machinists accept the proposed eight-year contract extension, from 2016 to 2024.
Some speakers said Friday’s vote is not just about building the 777X in Washington, but a chance for the union to stand up for union pensions everywhere.
Shannon Ryker, a structure mechanic on the 777 in Everett, said a yes vote would mean accepting Boeing’s ultimatum and “would diminish the collective-bargaining powers of unions.”
“This is our fight — every union’s fight,” she said. “We are fighting for the future of unions.”
After the revised contract was proposed by Boeing last month, some union members called for rallies to demand a vote and to support approval of the offer. But those improvised events, with no organized union support, drew relatively small numbers of people.
Voting starts at 5 a.m. Friday and goes until 6 p.m. Unlike the last vote, ballot counting will take place at each union hall and the results will be phoned into the union headquarters in Seattle.
Coral Garnick: 206-464-2422 or email@example.com. On Twitter @coralgarnick