Negotiators fail to reach agreement in Orlando.
After the failure of a last-ditch bargaining effort, Boeing machinists will go on strike from midnight tonight.
“The strike is on,” said Mark Blondin, national aerospace coordinator for the International Association of Machinists IAM), speaking from Orlando, Fla., where talks between top union leaders and Boeing executives failed to reach agreement.
The talks ended today at about 3 p.m. Pacific Time.
“We just didn’t get to a place where we could reach an agreement,” Blondin said. “We tried to exhaust every avenue.”
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“We met with the mediator last night and all day today,” he said. “There was no formal offer to bring back to the members. There’s nothing to bring back.”
Boeing issued a statement from commercial airplanes chief executive Scott Carson.
“Over the past two days, Boeing, the union and the federal mediator worked hard in pursuing good faith explorations of options that could lead to an agreement,” Carson said. “Unfortunately, the differences were too great to close.”
At the expiry of a 48-hour extension of the contract to allow time for the Florida talks, some 27,000 workers will go on strike and production of Boeing jets will cease as Machinists stream out of the plants and set up pickets at factory gates.
About 25,000 Machinists work in Boeing’s factories along Puget Sound, some 1,200 in Portland, 700 in Wichita, Kan., and about 70 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Boeing employees who are not represented by the IAM are expected to report for work as usual.
Boeing spokesman Tim Healy said the company will deliver airplanes that are complete and ready to go, but “we don’t intend to assemble airplanes during the strike.”
Machinists voted Wednesday to reject Boeing’s final offer with an 80 percent majority. An even bigger majority — 87 percent — authorized strike action.
Many of the union’s rank-and-file are angry at Blondin for delaying the strike by 48 hours. At the end of the failed talks, he defended his decision to give the company the extra time.
“We got a great mandate from our members,” said Blondin. “We were offered this opportunity to try one more time to get movement on our four major issues: job security, wages, pension and health care. … I took a chance on behalf of our members.”
“It’s always worthwhile trying when you’ve got 27,000 families, if you can get a deal done quickly for them,” he said. “I’d hate for them weeks down the road to say, ‘You had a chance to talk further and you refused.’ “
Gov. Christine Gregoire, who called both sides several times in the past week to urge agreement, issued a statement calling the talks breakdown “unfortunate.”
“Boeing and its workforce are a critical part of the health of the state economy,” Gregoire said. “I urge both parties to continue working on a resolution and settle the strike as quickly as possible. I will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
“We’ll talk anytime, anyplace,” Blondin said. “Right now, we’ve got a strike to put on.”
IAM district 751 president, Tom Wroblewski, who negotiated alongside Blondin issued a statement announcing the strike to the rank-and-file.
“If (Boeing) wants to talk, they have my number, they can reach me on the picket line,” Wroblewski said.
Boeing spokesman Healy said the company is open to meeting the union. But no meetings are scheduled.
Shares of Boeing stock dropped 14 cents in trading Friday to close at $62.89.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org