Machinists Accept 777X Deal
Union workers at Boeing narrowly accepted a contract offer the company says will guarantee its new 777X aircraft will be built in the Seattle area. On Friday, International Association of Machinists members voted 51 percent in favor of the deal, which was a sweetened version of an offer that was soundly rejected by the union in November, mainly over pension concerns. When that offer was turned down, Boeing started a well-publicized effort to find alternative locations to build the big airplane before issuing a "final offer" on Dec. 12. The local union leadership thought Boeing was bluffing and rejected the new deal without calling a vote but then the union's head office overruled the local officials and forced Friday's vote.
Local union representative Jim Bearden told Reuters it's now up to Boeing to honor the commitment. "This decision means Boeing hopefully will stop pursuit of another site for its 777X program," Bearden said. Union member Lester Mullen said the company put workers in a tough position. "They held a gun to our head and our people were afraid," he said. Boeing, however, characterized the vote outcome as good news for everyone involved. "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." The 777X is an updated version of the wide-body airliner employing technologies developed for the 787 Dreamliner. It has already attracted more than 250 orders.