Boeing, Machinists Head Back to Table
SEATTLE (AP) _ A federal mediator called negotiators for striking machinists and Boeing to the bargaining table in an attempt to end a 27-day walkout.
Mediator Doug Hammond met separately with each side Sunday and scheduled the direct talks for today.
Hammond said he wants to keep Boeing and the Machinists union talking until an agreement is reached. But statements by both sides haven’t changed since Hammond’s last attempt at restarting talks failed Oct. 18.
About 57,800 Machinist union members struck Boeing nationwide Oct. 4.
″It is appropriate for Boeing and the union to resume negotiations at this point to hear each other’s position across the bargaining table,″ chief Boeing negotiator Larry McKean said late Sunday in a statement. ″Beyond that, I cannot speculate on the direction, timing or ultimate outcome of the negotiations.″
Money remained the key issue.
″This round of bargaining will hopefully lead to a settlement, but you have to be at the table to discuss the issues before you agree on them,″ Tom Baker, president of IAM District Lodge 751, said Sunday night.
Of the money issue, Baker said succinctly, ″They got it, we want it.″
Boeing was scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings today, with the figures expected to continue to affirm the company’s economic health.
The quarter ended Sept. 30, so any strike effects won’t show up in the figures.
For the first half of the year, Boeing earned $356 million or $1.55 a share on sales of $9.07 billion. For the same period of 1988, Boeing’s profits were $296 million or $1.29 a share on sales of $8.37 billion.
Boeing has estimated its sales will total $22 billion this year, up from $16.9 billion in 1988.
The strike began after the union overwhelmingly rejected Boeing’s three- year contract offer that included annual pay raises of 4 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent and bonuses of 8 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second. The offer also had cost-of-living increases to virtually cover inflation, a reduction in mandatory overtime from 200 to 160 hours per quarter and higher benefits.
The union represents 43,300 Boeing workers in the Seattle area; 12,000 in Wichita, Kan.; 1,700 in Portland, Ore.; and a few hundred others in California, Hawaii, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and other states.
Boeing, which employs 164,000 workers worldwide, has kept its plants open and delivered 15 commercial jets since the strike began.