The Boe­ing Com­pa­ny announced this morn­ing that it has ten­ta­tive­ly reached a labor agree­ment with the Inter­na­tion­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Machin­ists (IAM) that will ensure the next gen­er­a­tion of its 737 nar­row-body jet (known as the MAX) will be built in Ren­ton, Wash­ing­ton, where pro­duc­tion of the cur­rent 737 is based.

Boeing's 737 Max
A depic­tion of the new Boe­ing 737 Max, which includes a new fam­i­ly of engines. (Image cour­tesy of The Boe­ing Company). 

“The 737 MAX builds upon the lega­cy of the world’s best sin­gle-aisle air­plane and con­tin­ues to gen­er­ate over­whelm­ing response from our cus­tomers,” said Jim Albaugh, the head of Beo­ing Com­mer­cial Air­planes, in a state­ment.

“If our employ­ees rat­i­fy a new agree­ment, build­ing the 737 MAX in Ren­ton will secure a long and pros­per­ous future there, as well as at oth­er sites in the Puget Sound area and in Port­land, Ore., where 737 parts are built.”

IAM Dis­trict Lodge 751 Pres­i­dent Tom Wrob­lews­ki described the deal as an “extra­or­di­nary pro­pos­al.” “[This deal will] secure thou­sands of jobs while rais­ing Machin­ists’ pay and pen­sions,” he said. “Hope­ful­ly it also sig­nals the start of a new rela­tion­ship that can both meet our mem­bers’ expec­ta­tions for good jobs, while giv­ing Boe­ing the sta­bil­i­ty and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty it needs to succeed.”

A rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote on the agree­ment by Machin­ist mem­bers has been sched­uled for Wednes­day, Decem­ber 7th. That’s exact­ly one week from today.

The IAM says the agree­ment nego­ti­at­ed with Boe­ing includes the fol­low­ing pro­vi­sions con­cern­ing fair wages and ben­e­fits for its members:

  • Annu­al wage increas­es of 2 per­cent, plus cost-of-liv­ing adjustments;
  • An incen­tive pro­gram intend­ed to pay bonus­es between 2 and 4 percent;
  • A rat­i­fi­ca­tion bonus of $5,000 for each member;
  • Increas­es to the for­mu­la for cal­cu­lat­ing pen­sions in each year of the pact; and
  • Guar­an­tees that new hires would con­tin­ue to receive tra­di­tion­al pensions.

NPI con­grat­u­lates IAM and Boe­ing on reach­ing this his­toric agree­ment. This is, with­out ques­tion, great news for the eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty of not just our Machin­ist broth­ers and sis­ters, but for all Washingtonians.

Aero­space has long been one of our state’s most impor­tant indus­tries — it has jus­ti­fi­ably been called the rock on which our state’s econ­o­my is built. And no com­pa­ny is more impor­tant to our aero­space sec­tor than Boeing.

Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire was quick to praise the deal.

“I com­mend both Boe­ing man­age­ment and the Machin­ists for com­ing to the table, nego­ti­at­ing in good faith and work­ing togeth­er to reach an agree­ment. This ten­ta­tive deal rec­og­nizes the tal­ent of Boeing’s high­ly trained work­force, while pro­vid­ing the com­pa­ny the con­fi­dence it needs to assure its cus­tomers that planes will be deliv­ered on sched­ule. And as this sec­tor becomes increas­ing­ly com­pet­i­tive, this ini­tial agree­ment shows a strong com­mit­ment by both sides to secure the future of aero­space in Wash­ing­ton,” she said.

Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell agreed.

“This is a tsuna­mi-sized deal between Boe­ing and the Machin­ists union,” she said. “It is a trans­for­ma­tion of the rela­tion­ship between the com­pa­ny and work­ers to focus on qual­i­ty, per­for­mance, and incentives.”

“This deal keeps jobs in the North­west with the 737 MAX pro­duc­tion and keeps the long-term skillset of build­ing fuel effi­cient planes in the North­west. The Puget Sound area wins because it means the North­west will con­tin­ue to be the epi­cen­ter of aero­space jobs long into the future.”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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