Abandoning what up to now has been a highly confidential negotiating process, Boeing last night publicly released a detailed summary of...
Abandoning what up to now has been a highly confidential negotiating process, Boeing last night publicly released a detailed summary of its latest three-year contract offer to its largest union.
Leaders of the International Association of Machinists, District 751, derided the company’s first offer earlier this week as an “insult.” They did not like the revised proposal much better when they received it shortly after 9 p.m. last night.
“The two sides are far apart. The company’s second offer showed no significant improvements on our top issues: pensions, health care and job security,” said Connie Kelliher, a union spokeswoman.
On pensions, Boeing offered a 6.7 percent increase in monthly payments, to $64 per month for each year of service up from $60 per month under the current contract. The union on Wednesday called the company’s opening pension offer “very meager.”
Yet Boeing also gave workers a new, nonpension option to increase their retirement savings: a one-time $2,000 cash payment that could be rolled into Boeing’s Voluntary Investment Plan, which is essentially a 401(k) savings plan.
Boeing would match up to 50 percent of the portion of the $2,000 diverted to the VIP plan.
On health care, the union’s second priority, Boeing is offering four health-care plans in the Puget Sound area, but union members are likely to bear a larger share of the costs. It was not immediately clear how much employees’ cost burden will rise.
On job security, the summary of the revised offer contained no new provisions to protect workers’ jobs.
“Fundamentally, job security is about staying competitive so we can win new business,” said Chaz Bickers, a Boeing spokesman.
The summary of the offer made no mention of the touchy subject of how employee “team leaders” are selected in the factories. Bickers said the company’s position remains “consistent” with the language in the current contract.
The rough translation: Boeing likely denied union requests to alter the team-leader selection process to make seniority a larger part of the criteria. The current selections emphasize skills, evaluations and experience.
The proposal is heavily laden with cash incentives. Machinists leaders and rank-and-file members often have said bonuses and salaries are not important this year because so many workers are nearing retirement age.
Yet cash in the hand sometimes proves difficult to reject.
Boeing would provide $2,000 to each union member upon ratification of the contract, in addition to the other $2,000 that members could invest in the VIP plan.
The proposal also includes a new incentive plan that would allow union members to receive from 5 to 15 days of extra pay each year if the company as a whole hits certain financial-performance targets.
The company would also eliminate retiree medical coverage for future hires.
Boeing must submit its best-and-final offer to the Machinists no later than Tuesday morning.
Union members will vote whether to accept or reject the contract, and whether to go on strike, on Thursday.
The Machinists’ current contract with Boeing expires shortly after midnight Friday.
David Bowermaster: 206-464-2724 or email@example.com