Machinists, Boeing Agree on Tentative Pact to End 67-Day Strike
SEATTLE (AP) _ Negotiators for striking Machinists and Boeing Co. have reached a tentative agreement on a contract to end a 67-day strike, the union said late Monday.
Union leaders said they would recommend that striking production workers accept the four-year contract when they vote Wednesday.
``I think we finally accomplished what we set out to do,″ said Bill Johnson, president of District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. ``We’ve had a very successful strike.″
Union members walked out Oct. 6 after rejecting an initial contract offer. They voted by more than 60 percent to reject a second contract offer Nov. 21.
``We think this contract will work in everyone’s best interests ... we’re pleased with this,″ Boeing spokesman Russ Young said.
The latest agreement, reached after six days of negotiations, includes strengthened language on subcontracting for work now done by union workers, a key union concern; and offers employees financial incentives to switch to a more restrictive health insurance program.
It would also increase wages by 3 percent in the first and second years, provide a 10 percent bonus in the first year and 4.5 percent in the second year, the union said. The Boeing machinists’ average wage would be boosted from $20.37 an hour to $23, the union said.
``It sounds pretty good, we’ll have to wait and see what they put in writing,″ striking machinist Ron Ackerman told KING-TV Monday night. ``I think we can all breathe a little easier now. I think it’s gonna go.″
``I’m excited to go back to work,″ said striker Tracey Galland. ``I like the medical benefits, the bonuses are a plus.″
Renewed negotiations began last Wednesday under the supervision of federal mediator Ben Youtsey, who brokered the contract offer that was voted down in November by the 32,500 striking union members.
That offer would have boosted pensions, offered some protection against potential job losses through subcontracting, avoided any increase in health care costs for retirees and scaled-down health care cost increases.
But many workers, however, said the offer didn’t go far enough, and still required concessions.
The biggest objection was a requirement that workers pay part of their health insurance premiums to remain in the most popular health plan. Until now, Boeing has paid the full premium.
Under the rejected proposal, workers would have received lump-sum payments of 5 percent of annual pay on Dec. 1 and 3 percent a year later, followed by a 3 percent general wage increase in the final year, all unchanged from the previous offer.
The union said the new pact contained language providing that any worker affected by subcontracting will be reassigned or retrained for available work inside Boeing.
The latest agreement offers financial incentives to switch into managed health care plans. Employees switching to or remaining in a managed health care system would receive $600 in 1996, $400 in 1997 and $200 in 1998, the union said.
For the time being, employees would not have to contribute to their coverage under optional medical plans.
If the costs of the Boeing medical plan exceed national average increases in medical costs, employees would have to make monthly contributions, starting July 1, 1998. Such contributions would not exceed $10 for individuals or $30 for family coverage, a union statement said.