It’s been a little over a week since Washington state union machinists narrowly voted to accept Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) latest contract offer, keeping Boeing and the production of the planemaker’s new 777X in the Seattle area. But the conflict is far from over, as Boeing machinists continue to challenge the vote while others campaign to replace national union leaders of the International Association of Machinists, the Chicago Tribune reports.
With an approval margin of only 51 percent and a contentious vote date that coincided with many workers’ holiday vacations (although the union allowed online absentee voting), a vocal portion of local union activists are pushing back against the results of the vote that guaranteed work on the 777X at the expensive of their pensions — an aspect of the dispute that has further split older union members more likely to fight for pension and younger union members more likely to push for the work.
Altogether, about 8,000 eligible machinists did not cast votes on January 3 out of an eligible 31,000 members. This number was up from the 5,000 members who failed to vote for the first version of the contract back in November. Despite the possibility of absentee voting for union members on vacation, some local union members have seen the vote date as a strategic move to try and mitigate the vote of older union members who were more likely to vote to keep their pensions and who were more likely to be away due to increased vacation days through seniority.
The real story is the deep rift that has formed between union leadership on the local and national levels over the events surrounding the vote. While the two sides have never seen eye-to-eye to begin with, the Chicago Tribune explains that if local union leadership were to win control of the national union, it would likely give rise to an increasingly militant workforce that would be a threat to Boeing in the long-term. And in the past twenty-five years, Boeing and Seattle-area workers have lost 200 days of production related to strikes.
According to Reuters, Jason Redrup of the Seattle-based IAM local 751 plans to run for vice president; Jay Cronk, a former employee of the national union, is planning to run for president. For current IAM president R. Thomas Buffenbarger, it would be the first direct challenge since he became president in 1997. And according to local union leaders, it would be the first contested election in decades.’