Boeing machinists approve contract securing 777X jet

Sat Jan 4, 2014 11:52am EST
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By Alwyn Scott, Jonathan Kaminsky and Bill Rigby

SEATTLE/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing's machinists on Friday narrowly approved a crucial labor contract that secured thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity for Washington state but will cost workers their pensions.

The vote of 51 percent to 49 percent to accept the deal means Boeing Co will build its new 777X jetliner and wings in the Seattle area, where Boeing has built aircraft for more than 90 years.

Had the workers rejected the offer, Boeing would have considered making the successor to its popular 777 widebody jet elsewhere, and had received offers from 22 states interested in hosting the new factory.

"This decision means Boeing hopefully will stop pursuit of another site for its 777X program," said a somber Jim Bearden, administrative assistant to machinist District 751 President Tom Wroblewski.

"They held a gun to our head and our people were afraid," said Lester Mullen, a District 751 council delegate who works on the current 777 wing production line.

Boeing's reaction was in stark contrast to the mood in the Seattle union hall where the results were announced.

"The future of Boeing in the Puget Sound region has never looked brighter," Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner said in a statement. "This will put our workforce on the cutting edge of composite technology, while sustaining thousands of local jobs for years to come."

NO STRIKE BEFORE 2024   Continued...

Union member Gabrielle Rogano (C) reacts with fellow union members after hearing that a union vote narrowly passed by 51% in support of Boeing's contract with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) District Lodge 751 to construct the wings for the 777X jetliner in Seattle, Washington January 3, 2014. REUTERS/David Ryder