The final fate of The Boeing Company‘s (NYSE:BA) 777x airplane production in the Puget Sound area remains up in the air, even after Machinist Union leaders rejected the company’s final offer Thursday. In a statement, Boeing said the 8-year contract extension was rejected by International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 751′s leadership.
“We’ve listened to the union leadership and had an open dialogue in hopes of moving toward each other. Unfortunately the offer, which would have ensured this great airplane for the Puget Sound region, was immediately rejected by the union leadership,” Ray Conner, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in the news release.
Rich Michalski represented IAM national leadership in the talks. Michalski spoke to the Seattle Times after the deal was rejected, and said IAM needed to hear from its members and let them vote on the proposal. “Our members are very sophisticated and smart on this matter. Once we get the information on the offer to them, they will let us know.” It is “a guarantee of work for 30 to 35 years,” Michalski said. The collapse in negotiations has brought Boeing offers from other states, twenty-two so far, and Michalski said members must “look at the facts, the situation as it is.”
District 751 President Tom Wroblewski was less favorable. “Going back to the table was the responsible thing to do,” Wroblewski said. “We just couldn’t get to an agreement. Again, the price was too high.” The paper noted that after the talks concluded, rank-and-file IAM members wrote to media outlets, expressing outrage over the deal, saying their vote should be the final say.
Boeing’s most recent offer added a $5,000 “lump sum bonus” to a previous $10,000 signing bonus for employees. It also enlarged dental benefits. In addition to the Puget Sound site, a Renton, Washington 737 Max assembly contract would have been extended through 2024. Now, Boeing is looking at 54 other potential sites for the work.
Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) issued a statement Thursday, reaffirming Washington’s commitment to Boeing. “We will continue to do all that we can to convince the company that Washington continues to be the best place in the world to not only build commercial airplanes, but design them and dream up new ideas that will make human flight — in all its forms — safer, faster, and more efficient.”