Boeing Makes New Offer, But Machinists See No New Money
SEATTLE (AP) _ The Boeing Co. defended its new offer in the month-old Machinists strike as ″an excellent package,″ but union negotiators said it actually took away from the aerospace giant’s offer made in October.
Talks broke off abruptly Saturday as the union negotiators turned down the latest proposal, calling it an insult to workers whose hopes were up after almost a week of daily negotiations.
Federal mediator Douglas Hammond said no further talks were scheduled after the 2 1/2 -hour session ended about 4 p.m. Saturday.
Boeing’s chief negotiator, Larry McKean, said the offer should be presented to the union membership.
″In every regard this offer is a great offer,″ McKean said.
But Tom Baker, president of Machinists District Lodge 751, accused Boeing of mischief by putting money in new areas while taking it away from other areas.
″They were trying to create problems for us with this type of thing,″ he said. ″They thought they would force us into the position to take this back to the members. But the members would be upset if I took this back. Of course, the same 30 percent (who voted to accept the first contract Oct. 3) will want it again.″
Union members picketing in Seattle appeared split on whether the latest Boeing offer should be sent to the membership.
″That sounds like a good offer to me,″ said Barb McCallick, 65, of Des Moines, a Seattle suburb.
″They can afford more than that,″ said Beatrice Moreno, 26, of Seattle. ″If we don’t stand up now, we won’t get anything.″
Either way, the several pickets huddled around trash can fires said they would stay on strike as long as it took.
Saturday was the sixth straight day of face-to-face negotiations, after Hammond met separately with both sides last Sunday. Hammond had said he hoped to keep both sides at the table until an agreement could be reached.
The strike began Oct. 4, the day after the union representing 57,800 Boeing workers voted down the three-year contract offer.
That offer included annual pay raises of 4 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent, and bonuses of 8 percent of gross pay in the first year and 3 percent in the second. There also were cost-of-living increases to virtually cover inflation, a reduction in mandatory overtime from 200 to 160 hours per quarter and higher benefits.
Boeing spokesman Paul Binder said the new offer contained the same wage increases, but boosted the lump sum payments to 10 percent the first year, 4 percent the second year and 4 percent the third year.
However, Binder said that while there were changes, the overall value of the offer was essentially the same as that of the offer rejected Oct. 3.
The union has said all along it wants more money.
The Machinists represent 43,300 Boeing workers inthe local District 751 lodge; 12,000 in Wichita, Kan.; 1,700 in Portland, Ore.; and a few hundred at scattered sites in California, Hawaii, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and other states.