Union approves Boeing peace agreement

By | December 8, 2011

A Machinists union voted to approve a new contract that promises a cease-fire against their employer – Boeing.

The Machinists District Lodge 751 approved a contract with 74% of the voting members. The agreement gives one of the most generous pension packages in the industry to all employees including brand new hires. In exchange, the union promises to cease hostilities against the manufacturer for four years,  pull their complaints from the NLRB, allow Boeing to build their 737 in Kansas and the 787 in South Carolina.

The union recently filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that put Boeing’s new South Carolina facility in question. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has said the union actions threatened thousands of jobs in a struggling economy[1].

The complaints alleged that Boeing was building the factory in a right-to-work state to avoid more strikes like those of 2005 and 2008, the latter which is attributed to the delay of the 787 Dreamliner at significant expense to Boeing and its reputation.

The union agreed to pull its complaints from the NLRB now that it has gotten the contract that was perhaps the goal of the conflict. Unfortunately, the board is an independent agency that is almost completely populated by President Obama’s appointees. While the union pulling their complaint does not guarantee that the board will follow suit, the union got the agreement it wanted while giving up little more than promising not to strike until 2016. It is likely that the unions will work with the Obama administration to get the board to drop the evaluation. This would show Boeing that the union has significant sway within the government and would rid Obama of a very negative campaign issue that would likely have run  right up to the election.

Boeing has had little choice but to come out with positive statements about the agreement. Boeing needs the NLRB mess to disappear so it can get on with production of their Dreamliner at the factory in South Carolina, the 737 in Kansas and no more work stoppages from the union – at least not from Machinists Lodge 751.

Sources:

[1] New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/12/07/business/AP-US-Boeing-Labor.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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