and the International Association of Machinists in Aerospace (IAM) District 751 in Seattle have brokered a deal to ensure production of the 737 MAX re-engining program at that single-aisle jet’s traditional home factory in Renton, Wash., coupled with a new four-year contract that comes nine months before the current one expires.
The agreement covers 34,200 IAM members in Washington, Kansas and Oregon and is subject to a member vote on Dec. 7.
“We have secured jobs for our members, we have secured jobs for the state of Washington, we have secured jobs for this community,” District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said of the pending accord.
For Boeing, the agreement secures four years of labor peace from its most strike-prone union as it ramps up production on all of its airplane programs and prepares to introduce the 737 MAX later in the decade. The talks were initiated by Boeing in early October, so they were wrapped up in just under two months. The IAM’s last strike shut down Boeing for two months in 2008, and reverberations were being felt in delayed deliveries well into 2009.
The agreement does not specifically mention the IAM grievance against Boeing for shifting second-line final production of the 787 to a factory in North Charleston, S.C. But Wroblewski indicated that the 737 MAX deal is assuaging the machinists’ anger, which resulted in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is now considering a case that would force Boeing to return the 787 work to its widebody factory in Everett, Wash.
If the new contract is ratified, he said, “we believe all our grievances with Boeing will be resolved.” Pressed for details, he demurred, emphasizing the jobs secured on Boeing’s new 737 program.
For nearly a year, Boeing has been studying the production capacity of its Renton factory, which is on the way to an unprecedented build rate of 42 airplanes per month in 2014. Producing the MAX, which involves introduction of new engines and modifications to the airframe and landing gear, will come on top of that.
As it considered expansion at Renton, Boeing also began looking elsewhere within Washington and at other states. The thought of losing yet another Boeing program prompted state and local officials to launch Project Pegasus to lobby Boeing to keep the program in Washington.
In a statement, Boeing says it has “assessed the business case for locating production of the 737 MAX in Renton in light of the economics of a proposed new labor agreement, and the company is prepared to locate 737 MAX production in Renton provided the economics contained in that proposal are achieved.”
That last reference is to a favorable ratification vote by IAM members, a company official said.
The proposed contract includes “a firm commitment” by Boeing to widebody production in Everett, the U.S. Air Forcetanker program production in Everett and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft production in the Puget Sound region around Seattle. Boeing has not said any of those programs might move, but union members wanted written assurances.
The proposal boosts pension benefits by $2 per year of service to $91 per month as of January 2016, offers a general wage increase of 2% each year and a $5,000 signing bonus.