Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) ratified a “landmark agreement” with Boeing last week that will ensure labor peace between the company and its 31,000 machinists for another four years and guarantee the production of the 737 MAX in Renton, Wash. The contract won the support of 74 percent of Boeing’s IAM membership, averting the possibility of yet another crippling strike in the Puget Sound area.
The four-year deal, which IAM leaders said would also ensure continuation of widebody work in the Puget Sound region, includes an annual pay raise of 2 percent and cost-of-living adjustments, an incentive program tied to bonuses of between 2 and 4 percent, a ratification bonus of $5,000 for each member, an increase in the formula for calculating pensions in each year of the pact and guarantees that new hires would receive traditional pensions.
NLRB Drops Lawsuit against Boeing
In return, the IAM promised to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to drop a potentially expensive and embarrassing lawsuit against Boeing. A day later, the NLRB obliged. Earlier this year the NLRB accused the company of retaliating against its employees for past strikes by building a new 787 plant in North Charleston, S.C., a move that sparked a bitter partisan clash between right-wing elements in the U.S. Congress and the Administration of President Barack Obama.
“I am very happy to announce that my office has approved the withdrawal of a charge by the machinists union against the Boeing Co., which brings our case in this matter to an end,” NLRB acting general counsel Lafe Solomon said in a written statement issued last week.
Solomon stressed that his office “always preferred” a settlement between the IAM and Boeing to an extended court proceeding, and that some 90 percent of “meritorious” NLRB cased get settled as a result of agreements between the parties before the end of litigation.
Boeing expects to build at least three Dreamliners a month in South Carolina—a so-called “right to work” state that bars the practice of requiring union membership as a condition of employment.
In a message to all Boeing Commercial Airplanes employees, BCA chief executive Jim Albaugh thanked the members of the union and the IAM leadership for their hard work and “constructive dialogue” and characterized the deal as proof that “reasonable minds can prevail.”