Boeing, Machinist Union in Tentative Labor Agreement

Dec. 1, 2011
Secret negotiations address IAMs lawsuit, anticipate new capacity for 737MAX jets

The Boeing Co. and the International Association of Machinists union have arrived a tentative agreement for a four-year contract extension for workers at Boeing plants in Kansas, Oregon, and Washington. The aircraft builder said the deal resulted from secret negotiations with the IAM over several weeks, and it declared the agreement “reflects a new era of working together between the company and its IAM-represented employees.”

The terms of the agreement are unknown. Boeing stated that is complying with an IAM request to direct all inquiries on the agreement to union officials. It urged union members to “see the advantages … and importance” of the agreement, and to work toward the company’s and IAM’s “mutual objectives” of better competitiveness and greater job opportunities.

Boeing said the new labor agreement provides significant economic gains for workers, and demonstrates its long-term commitment to airplane production in the Puget Sound area. The company agreed to invest in new production capacity in that region to produce its forthcoming 737 MAX jets.

The 737MAX is family of single-aisle commercial jets Boeing plans to introduce in 2017 to replace its 737 Next Generation series with a more fuel-efficient model.

If ratified by its IAM-affiliated workers, the new agreement apparently would resolve the union’s lawsuit against the aircraft builder stemming from the opening of a new assembly plant for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, in South Carolina. As such, it would end the controversial case before the National Labor Relations Board that charged Boeing with retaliation (versus IAM workers in Washington state) for building the new plant in a “right to work” state.

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