Machinists and Boeing Reach a Tentative Agreement

Erika Johnsen
Posted: Dec 01, 2011 7:54 AM

Last spring, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers lodged a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing, ostensibly because Boeing was breaking the law and "punishing" Puget Sound's strike-happy Machinists by building a brand new Dreamliner plant in South Carolina (a right-to-work state, hem hem). The suit was, of course, a complete farce: it was nothing more than a Big Labor-assault on a successful business that dared to put a toe out of line by making decisions that would actually help them--you know--make money.

It seems that Boeing and the union have finally settled upon an arrangement, but if you ask me, the Machinists have spent the past months philandering with everybody else's valuable time and money, and they're about to get off scot-free for causing this entire ludicrous affair.

As Boeing executive Jim Albaugh spoke to an aerospace conference in New York, recent strikes by the company's workers in Washington state weren't far from his mind.

"We've had strikes three out of the last four times that we've gone to the table with the union," he noted Wednesday morning. "To me it was a lose-lose for both of us."

But he gave no indication of the blockbuster deal that would be announced by the company's Machinists union just two hours later: that in exchange for keeping work on Boeing's modernized 737 in the Puget Sound region, the union had agreed to drop a federal complaint over the company's decision to open a new $750 million, nonunion plant in South Carolina. ...

The four-year extension of the Machinists' collective bargaining agreement faces a ratification vote by union members next Wednesday. It was described by both sides as a win-win: Boeing gets a substantial stretch of labor peace; the union gets guaranteed jobs. ...

If the deal is finalized, it would appear to leave in place the work at a new $750 million Boeing plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state where the company opened a new production line for its 787 airplane.