Arrangement to end Boeing strike still leaves some unhappy

Sunday, November 2, 2008 | 6:17 p.m. CST

SEATTLE — Although the vote by the Machinists union that ended an eight-week strike against Boeing Co. was by a 3-to-1 margin, there were some unhappy workers in the vote's aftermath.

"Two months out for what?" Dorothy Hertel told The News Tribune. "I am very disappointed," added Hertel, who works in quality assurance on the 787 program.

Like Hertel, Drew Kemp, a flight-test mechanic, said he voted Saturday to continue the strike.

"This was all about keeping jobs in the Puget Sound region," Kemp told the Tacoma newspaper. "We were doing it for our kids and your kids. It was not about money."

The vote by members of the union, which represents about 27,000 workers at plants in Washington state, Oregon and Kansas, was announced Saturday night. Workers were expected to return to Boeing's commercial airplane factories beginning Sunday night. Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems division is based in St. Louis, and they employ 15,710 people in Missouri.

The strike began Sept. 6.

The strike was costing the company an estimated $100 million per day in deferred revenue and postponing delivery of its long-awaited 787 jetliner, which has already been delayed three times, and other commercial planes.

The strike came amid surging demand for Boeing's commercial jetliners, which include 737s, 747s, 767s and 777s. Boeing has said its order backlog has swollen to a record $349 billion in value.

In an analysis of the strike, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the strike further strained relations between Boeing and its biggest union.

The newspaper said some industry analysts believe the strike may have been the one to push Boeing down an eventual path that will see it gradually move its jet-making operations to a right-to-work state in the South.

"When the Boeing machinists return to work, they should start saving for the future," Richard Aboulafia, senior analyst for the Teal Group, an industry consulting business, told the Post-Intelligencer.

"If they want their children to have the same standard of living they enjoy, they will need a university education," Aboulafia said. "Even if the next generation follows Boeing Commercial Airplanes to Texas, or wherever, they won't have what the Machinists have now."

The Herald noted the average Machinist lost about $10,000 in salary and overtime during the past eight weeks, but a relatively new Machinists, making $12.72 per hour, lost about $5,000, which is the minimum bonus each Machinist will receive under the contract by Nov. 7.

"This gives the new guys a little more," Andy Mason told the Everett newspaper. "The people before me fought for us. Now we're fighting for the new hires."

Rob Mosley, 53, was glad to see the strike finally end. He said he was one of the minority of Machinists who voted to accept the contract offered in September.

"I thought it was a poor time to be pushing too much," he told The Seattle Times.

But Dennis Warren, 64, told the newspaper that although he also voted to accept the contract, "It took a lot of soul searching."


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