Boeing Strikers Expected to Approve Contract
SEATTLE (AP) _ Boeing Co. officials and striking production workers looked forward to building airplanes again as Machinists union members voted on a contract offer Wednesday.
Approval appeared certain in daylong voting on the pact, which could set a pattern for other Boeing contracts and throughout the aerospace industry.
Workers stand to receive an estimated average increase of $19,200 in pay and benefits over the four-year term of the agreement, said Bill Johnson, president of Machinists District Lodge 751 in Seattle, which represents about three-quarters of the more than 32,500 affected workers.
Strikers lost an average of $8,000 to $9,000 each, he said.
``You’re going to make that up over the life of the agreement _ it’s a real win,″ Johnson said.
Other provisions include new protections against job losses from subcontracting and 100 percent company payment of all health insurance premiums until at least 1998.
The 69-day walkout at plants in Washington, Oregon and Kansas delayed delivery of nearly three dozen jetliners, forcing some airlines to cut service and rearrange schedules and cutting Boeing’s revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars in the fourth quarter.
All plants will be open for workers to return Thursday, but the amount of time needed to resume normal operations and catch up on deliveries remains undetermined, said Russ Young, a company spokesman.
Company officials said the settlement could lead to resolution of contract talks with the Seattle Professional Engineering Employees Association, which represents 21,000 engineers, scientists and technicians, and the United Auto Workers, which represents about 2,100 production workers at Boeing Helicopter in Ridley Township, Pa., near Philadelphia.
Contracts for both unions have expired but were extended by mutual agreement.
The strike began Oct. 6 and continued after a second contract offer was rejected Nov. 21. It is the second-longest in company history, exceeded only by a 140-day walkout in 1948. Boeing Machinists also struck in 1965, 1977 and 1989.
Before the strike, Boeing expected to deliver 235 planes by the end of the year. Now company officials anticipate 200 to 205.
Little more than planning, reorientation, reassignment and major maintenance is expected between now and Dec. 23, when Boeing largely shuts down until Jan. 2, Young said.
The contract provides cash bonuses of 10 percent of gross pay this year and 4.5 percent in 1996, followed by general wage increases of 3 percent each in the third and final years of the pact. Average pay would go from $20.37 an hour to $23.
Workers would also be offered cash incentives to switch to less costly managed health care plans. Those who stay with the Boeing medical plan will have to begin contributing to monthly premiums, now covered entirely by the company, in July 1, 1998, if cost increases exceed the national average.
Workers displaced by subcontracting would be reassigned or retrained for available work within Boeing.