Boeing was hit Wednesday with its second strike in two months as about 1,500 Machinists at its rocket business walked off the job in California...
Boeing was hit Wednesday with its second strike in two months as about 1,500 Machinists at its rocket business walked off the job in California, Florida and Alabama.
Talks on a new labor contract broke down Tuesday after a federal mediator failed to broker a pact between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM), union officials said. Boeing’s proposal would raise workers’ health-care costs and eliminate retiree medical benefits for new employees, they said.
The walkout at the Integrated Defense Systems unit, which services mainly NASA and the Air Force, comes a month after Boeing settled a strike by more than 18,000 commercial-aircraft Machinists in the Seattle area, Oregon and Kansas. That agreement kept health-care premiums at current levels and preserved new-hire retiree medical benefits.
“This is a continuation of the battle in Seattle,” said Gary Quick, lead negotiator for IAM Local 2024 in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It is absolutely Boeing’s strategy to force on us, a smaller membership, what they couldn’t force on the bigger Machinists group.”
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Boeing spokesman Dan Beck said the company’s offer would have given workers substantial pay increases and boosted pensions and savings plans.
The three-year contract, which expired Oct. 23, covers about 900 workers in Huntington Beach, Torrance and Vandenberg and Edwards Air Force bases in California; about 300 workers in Cape Canaveral, Fla.; and about 300 workers in Huntsville and Decatur, Ala.
It’s the first strike since 1975 by workers in Huntington Beach and at the Air Force launch sites, Quick said.
The strike could delay the launch of a Delta rocket carrying a NASA weather satellite, Beck said.
But “the impact of this strike will be almost unnoticeable,” said Paul Nisbet, an analyst at JSA Research. “Not because of the infrequency of launches, but because this part of Boeing hasn’t been making much money. It won’t affect the overall performance of Boeing.”
Boeing began talks in Seattle on Tuesday with the union that represents 18,700 engineering and technical workers whose contract expires Dec. 1. The workers want higher wages and a cap on their contributions for medical coverage.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.