Boeing Union Urges Machinists to Strike

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by isaac000, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Boeing Union Urges Machinists to Strike
    Tuesday August 30, 11:30 pm ET
    By Allison Linn, AP Business Writer
    Boeing Presents Machinists With Final Contract Offer; Union Leaders Urge Workers to Strike

    SEATTLE (AP) -- Boeing Co. on Tuesday presented what it called its final contract offer to more than 18,000 Machinists, whose leaders promptly urged the workers to reject the proposal and strike. A top Boeing executive warned that a strike would be devastating.

    In a statement posted late Tuesday on its Web site, the union said the aerospace giant was insisting on concessions and takeaways in a "corporate strategy to break the workers who have built this company."

    Union members will vote on the three-year offer Thursday, with the current contract set to expire Friday.

    "I just cannot emphasize enough what a strike would mean to us because we would absolutely be walking away from our commitments to our customers," Alan Mulally, head of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, told a news conference earlier Tuesday after the company released its last offer. "There's just no way we would recover."

    If the union members vote to strike, Mulally said the company would have no choice but to slowly shut down operations. And he added that customers have been clear that such a disruption could cause them to choose a rival airplane maker -- notably European archrival Airbus SAS.

    The final offer aimed to answer a key union concern with a 10 percent increase in pension payouts. But it otherwise changed little from Boeing's last offer.

    The Seattle-based Machinists Lodge 751, which represents workers who assemble commercial airplanes, said on its top issue, Boeing's final offer of a pension of $66 per month for every year worked, up from $60 currently, was "insulting."

    For about 17,500 affected Machinists in the Puget Sound area and Gresham, Ore., the final offer increased lump-sum payouts to $6,000 over two years. That total could increase to a maximum of $9,000 if employees choose to roll the money into a retirement plan.

    The company also added a 2.5 percent wage increase in the third year of the contract.

    For about 900 Machinists workers in Wichita, Kan., the company offered no general wage increase, but a one-time payout of $2,800, which would increase to $4,200 if any employee chose to deposit that money in the Boeing 401(k)-type retirement account.

    "They are trying to buy you with cash, while dividing and hurting you in other ways," the union statement said. "We will not let this company divide us. Why would we allow them to separate Wichita out of the economic package?"

    Machinists Lodge 751 is negotiating for employees in all three areas, but certain terms of the contract differ based on location. Workers represented in the talks now receive an average of $59,000 a year. The company said they would earn about $62,500 a year by the end of the new contract, excluding overtime and other extra payouts.

    "From the start, the union has been very clear about our top issues" including pensions, health care and job security, the union statement said. "We presented a fair and reasonable offer but Boeing refused to address your issues."

    The union criticized Boeing's health care and job security proposals and a company proposal to eliminate new hires from future retiree medical benefits.

    Boeing said late Tuesday it hoped employees would look seriously at the offer.

    "We'll let our employees decide," Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said.

    The fierce round of final negotiations occurs as Boeing is enjoying a strong rebound in its commercial airplanes division, giving the union a burst of confidence in talks.

    Chicago-based Boeing is striving to beat Airbus SAS on new commercial jet orders for the first time since 2000. Boeing had racked up 529 orders through the end of July, compared with 299 orders for Airbus.

    Airbus is ahead on deliveries so far, with 216 planes as of the end of July, compared with 179 for Boeing. Boeing expects to deliver 320 airplanes this year, and Airbus expects to deliver 360.

    Boeing is also offering an incentive pay program that would provide five days of pay to Oregon and Washington workers if the company meets financial targets and up to 15 days' worth if the targets are exceeded. But it has dropped a $1,000 payout that was meant to jump-start that program, in exchange for increasing the lump-sum payouts.

    Cost-of-living provisions would boost base wages by about 1 percent in each year of the contract.

    The company also said it would offer two health plans with the option of no premium, though premiums would increase for most health care plans.

    Bickers said Boeing continues to shoulder most worker health care costs, and defended its retirement package as one of the industry's best.

    Analyst Richard Aboulafia with the Teal Group said union workers could expect to get other concessions but should expect a tough fight over pensions. That's because pensions represent a huge fixed cost that the company can't scale back in a downturn.

    "I think they've found the one area that management cannot afford to give in to, just for the long-term health of the company," he said.

    Still, Aboulafia said the union is in a strong position since Boeing cannot afford a long-term strike that would disrupt airplane production just as business is picking up.

    AP Business Writer Elizabeth M. Gillespie contributed to this report.
  2. Sam123

    Sam123 Guest

    why don't we give the union what it wants so Airbus can take the lead.
  3. I am pretty sure that Airbus being a european company has very strong unions too and its employees enjoy universal healthcare, generous compensation, pension plan, vacations and other perks.

    Besides Boeing machinists don't think it's worth their while to work for Boeing unless their compensation requirements are met. Do you have a problem with that?

    "Boeing said it earned $566 million, or 70 cents per share, for the April-June period"
    There is going to be nothing wrong if Boeing shares a small part of the profits with people who actually do the work.
  4. Let the union workers try to find a better deal elsewhere. Boeing, while not always ethical in business dealings, does have one of if not the best employee compensation packages around. These spoiled brats have no clue what they are doing.
  5. Yeah but that's your opinion and I doubt they are interested in it. I am sure they have reasons to believe they can do better than that and could not care less what people of limited mental capacity like you think about their compensation.
  6. Sam123

    Sam123 Guest

    Yes, but I recall Airbus getting a lot more help from the EU, than Boeing could ever get from the U.S. government.

    Yes, I do. Because if the machinists think it's not worth their while to work for Boeing, then Boeing will outsource more stuff to Asia, leaving the Machinists to apply at Walmart. Boeing is no longer the only game in town, so it’s the union’s best interest to keep Boeing #1 in the world.

    What's wrong is that you have a union threatening to walk out demanding higher compensation packages when Boeing has a good year, so when Boeing has a bad year, it can't afford the higher compensation and must lay people off and outsource more stuff to Asia. And a walk out will only encourage Boeing to do the latter.

    Boeing is sharing more than a small part of the profits, since the workers will get a raise in the new contract. The bulk of the profits are needed to improve the company and keep it competitive. It's in everyone's best interest.
  7. skepticaltrader

    skepticaltrader Guest

    I hope that the Machinist do strike, maybe Boeing can then squeeze out the crybabies that are overpaid anyway.

    Those Machinist will eventually wind up like the Mechanics at Northwest airlines, unemployed.

    I heard the other day that the mechanics at Northwest make a whopping $70k/year with all the perks that come along with being an Union employee. There are a lot of people out there that would love to have these jobs and are willing to work a lot harder than most of those lazy Union workers. They don't know how good they really have it.

    No wonder the big corporations keep sending work overseas.
  8. Yeah right, you people keep claiming that socialism can't possibly work, then you turn around and claim that Airbus has a competitive advantage because of European "socialism". You can't have it both way.

    At any rate, why do you care? Employees are negotiating their compensation with their employer. They take their chances, they believe it's worth a try, they may win, they may lose. What's in it for you, why do you even have an opinion regarding the issue and how can you possibly judge whether they are overpaid or not. Isn't that supposed to be decided by labor market?

    Personally I am excited when hard working americans are doing better and making more money than before. Why aren't you?
  9. Sam123

    Sam123 Guest

    You know that Western democracies have mixed socialist/capitalist systems. One can’t last without the other. I’m only advocating more capitalism and less socialism.

    I care because I want as much of the Boeing airplane to be made by Americans as possible. We are entering challenging times when you have a highly skilled Chinese machinists eager to work for nothing and happy to live in 0.0004 square foot apartments. Meanwhile you have American Machinists who want to build their 2nd homes in the mountains and remodel their kitchens with fancy stainless steel stoves.

    It’s bad form if the Boeing executives give themselves fat compensation packages. But to add nice pensions and compensation on top of a nice raise going into the next contract for 18,000 people, who can survive without it, will cripple Boeing's competitive ability. Unions threatening walkouts will only encourage Boeing to sell out to the Chinese.

    I am too. The emergence of the Middle Class was a great thing to happen in America, and today’s blue collar workers are part of the Middle Class; some even upper-middle-class.

    But with today’s China Syndrome, union walkouts will only hurt the best interests of everyone involved. We have come a long way from the sweat shops of the late 19th – early 20th Centuries, thanks to unionization. But in today’s world, Unions need to reconsider their not-so-productive ways of persuasion.
  10. I think the union has Boeing over a barrel. Boeing management obviously is unaware of the many exciting opportunities available for these workers in such exciting and growing fields as food service, lawn care (for those with language skills) and hospital orderlies.

    My advice to the dedicated and loyal union employees of Boeing is to tell the Man to take his job and shove it. Union solidarity and providing an excuse for union thugs to draw huge salaries and manage the pension fund is far more important than the slave wages this corporate exploiter pays.

    Get out those Che! shirts and get ready for some head knocking on the picket line.
    #10     Aug 31, 2005