Boeing says no plans to reopen union talks on 777X

Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:25am EST
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DUBAI (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N: Quote) said it has no plans to reopen talks with a union representing Washington state workers who have rejected a labor contract linked to its newest jet and vowed it would "look very broadly" at where to build it.

Washington state machinists last week voted down a contract negotiated between Boeing and leaders of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) that would have kept production of Boeing's profitable wide-body series in the Seattle area in return for lower benefits.

Boeing is keeping "all options open" on where to build the 777X and expects to make a decision "within the next several months", Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner told a news conference on Saturday.

He was speaking on the eve of the Dubai Airshow where industry sources expect the U.S. planemaker to launch the latest version of the 777 jet with around 250 orders.

Asked whether Boeing was willing to go back into talks with the IAM after its members rejected the contract proposal, Conner said: "At this point we have no plans to do that."

Conner said the Seattle area, where Boeing builds most of its jets, was not out of the race but that Boeing would look at other facilities including wings production in Japan, where the composite wing for the 787 Dreamliner is already made.

"The vote didn't go the way we had hoped so we are now exploring all our options with respect to the 777X," he said.

Responding to a reporter's suggestion that the union felt the ball was in Boeing's court to decide what to do next, Conner said: "I would say the ball is in their court."

Boeing executives also rejected suggestions that the talks had been driven by a need to speed up the new plane in response to recent wins by European rival Airbus EAD.PA, saying it was sticking to plans to deliver the proposed jet in 2020.   Continued...

The Boeing logo is seen at their headquarters in Chicago, April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young