Boeing and the striking Machinists union will resume negotiations Thursday with the help of a federal mediator.
After 45 days on strike, Boeing and the Machinists union announced today that they will resume talks Thursday in Washington, D.C.
A statement from Arthur Rosenfeld, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), said the agency had notified negotiators for Boeing and the IAM that “he wants the parties to reconvene negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS in the nation’s capital.”
Rosenfeld called the ongoing strike by the International Association of Machinists against Boeing “a priority matter for this agency.”
Mark Blondin, aerospace coordinator for the IAM, said he’s had no indication of what development might have spurred the mediator to recall the parties to the table and nothing solid to suggest that the renewed talks will go better this time.
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He said in the past week he had no meetings with Boeing and only three brief conversations with the mediator.
Blondin said his members are still resolved to stay out until their demands are met and he doesn’t know if the company has a new offer.
“I don’t want to give anyone any false hope and I don’t want to crush optimism either,” he said.
But he said it’s important to take up the offer of talks.
“I said, yeah, we’ll be there,” Blondin said. “We’ve never passed up an opportunity to discuss our members’ position.”
Previous short-lived talks, also brokered by the FMCS, broke off a week ago, deadlocked over outsourcing the jobs of members who deliver parts to assembly lines.
In those talks, Boeing agreed not to lay off the roughly 2,000 machinists who currently work in that role, despite a long-term plan to introduce automation and participation by outside vendors that would reduce the numbers in that job category over time.
The strike, which began Sept. 6, has idled more than 27,000 Machinists and has halted production of jetliners.
Talks resumed briefly on Oct. 12 but reached an impasse the following day. Negotiators didn’t get past the outsourcing of parts delivery issue to discuss other areas of disagreement — including pay.
An IAM statement posted Monday afternoon on the union Web site told members that the strike will continue: “We hope this marks a major step forward to resolve this strike. It is important as we move forward that we continue to stay strong on the picket lines.”
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963