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Boeing Machinists Hold Out for Better Offer as Talks Break Down

October 19, 1989

SEATTLE (AP) _ Striking Boeing Machinists say the aerospace giant’s latest offer is no better than the contract they rejected before walking out Oct. 4, and they’re holding out for a better economic package.

The first post-walkout talks between Boeing Co. and representatives of 58,700 workers in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union fizzled Wednesday just four hours after they began.

Through a federal mediator, Boeing negotiators told the union they would not expand the economic package union members rejected Oct. 3, but were willing ″to make adjustments within the framework of the original wage offer,″ the company said in a statement.

″They might be willing to move the numbers around a little bit, but that’s not what it’s all about,″ said Tom Baker, president of IAM District Lodge 751. ″It’s about improvement.″

Any further talks will be scheduled by federal mediator Douglas Hammond. He said he will maintain contact with both sides daily, but he held out little hope for an immediate resolution.

″If the parties continue to agree to disagree there’s nothing I can do about it,″ Hammond said.

The talks were the first since Oct. 2, two days before IAM members struck to press for a bigger share of Boeing’s record profits.

Boeing chief negotiator Larry McKean on Wednesday defended the company’s wage offer as fair, equitable and the best three-year offer in recent American industry history.

The Machinists voted 85 percent to strike rather than take a contract with annual wage increases of 4 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent; bonuses of 8 percent of gross pay in the first year and 3 percent the second; cost-of- living boosts virtually matching inflation; a cut in mandatory overtime to 160 hours a quartr from 200 hours; and higher benefits.

Baker said Boeing’s unwillingness to budge didn’t surprise the strikers and he viewed the brief meeting as just a start.

″We’ll take it a day at a time,″ he said, adding he planned to join the picket line today. ″That’s where the fight will be won, on the picket line.″

Rather than rush to a settlement, Baker added, union negotiators planned to move cautiously to avoid a second rejection vote that could leave both sides more entrenched.

The Machinists represent 43,300 Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area, 12,000 in Wichita, Kan., 1,700 in Portland, Ore., and a few hundred others at scattered sites in California, Hawaii, Montana, Utah and other states.

For Boeing, there have been growing reports of concern about delayed aircraft deliveries to Malaysia Airlines, America West Airlines and British Airways. Boeing has delivered seven planes during the strike.

An agreement would set a pattern for other labor negotiations at Boeing, the world’s largest commercial airplane builder, and traditionally sets the standard for the nation’s aerospace industry.

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