In the end, it wasn't even close.
Late Wednesday evening, a tally of the voting by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) District 751, District W-24, in Seattle, confirmed that 67% of union members had voted to reject Boeing's offer of an eight-year contract extension.
Had it been approved, the contract would have required union members to transition from a system of defined-benefit pensions to one of defined contributions (401k), would have limited pay raises in excess of cost-of-living adjustments to just 1% every other year, but would also have paid all Boeing machinists an immediate $10,000 signing bonus, among other provisions. Boeing had also strongly implied that approval of the contract would have confirmed the company's decision to build its new 777X airliner in Seattle, rather than at another locale.
In a statement reacting to the vote, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner pronounced himself "very disappointed in the outcome." Conner commented further: "without the terms of this contract extension, we're left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X."
For his part, IAM District 751 Directing Business Representative Tom Wroblewski expressed his hope in a statement that despite the vote, "Boeing will not discard our skills when looking to place the 777X." Regardless of how the company decides to proceed, though, Wroblewski argued: "We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal. We've held on to our pensions and that's big. At a time when financial planners are talking about a 'retirement crisis' in America, we have preserved a tool that will help our members retire with more comfort and dignity."
One of America's largest industrial trade unions, IAM represents more than 31,000 Boeing workers.
In a late night press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee said that Boeing officials assured him that Washington state was still a contender for the 777X.
Inslee added that the state would still have a strong showing, citing the recent tax incentive package that was quickly passed by the Legislature, a potential transportation package the governor still hopes could be taken up in coming weeks, as well as the "best aerospace workers in the world."
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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