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Tue, Oct 28, 2008

Tentative Agreement Reached in Boeing-Machinists Talks

News Of Deal Comes As SPEEA Talks Begin Tuesday

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 10.28.08 0025 EDT: Arthur F. Rosenfeld, Director of the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), announced late Monday negotiators for the Boeing Company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) have reached a tentative agreement during talks overseen by federal mediators in the nation's capital.

Rosenfeld said that no details of the tentative agreement will be released by the agency. Boeing added the union retains the right to release details of the agreement first... but it did provide some vague details of the agreement.

"The company retained the flexibility necessary to manage its business, while making changes to the contract language to address the union's issues on job security, pay and benefits," Boeing said. "The offer provides general wage increases every year and increases pension benefits. In addition, Boeing is proposing no changes to the cost share employees currently pay for a selection of outstanding health care plans."

The tentative agreement is pending a ratification vote by IAMAW members; leadership has recommended that workers accept the deal, according to Boeing.

The latest round of discussions between the parties in the presence of federal mediators began Thursday, October 23, in Washington.

The FMCS Director commended negotiators for the IAMAW and Boeing for their hard work at the bargaining table. "Both sides showed professionalism and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and to stick with the difficult task in front of them," Rosenfeld said.

"This is an outstanding offer that rewards employees for their contributions to our success while preserving our ability to compete," added Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "I thank both negotiating teams and the federal mediator for their hard work and commitment in reaching this agreement. We recognize the hardship a strike creates for everyone -- our customers, suppliers, employees, community and our company -- and we look forward to having our entire team back."

If employees vote to approve the offer, it will end the strike by approximately 27,000 employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas.

Original Story

2200 EDT: The Boeing strike appears to have dragged on long enough to be motivating both sides. Connie Kelliher, a spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Seattle told the Associated Press that after calling a break in the wee hours of Monday morning, negotiators for both sides and a federal mediator caught a few hours' sleep and resumed talks.

The negotiations are taking place under a news blackout. More than 27,000 workers at three plants have been on strike against Boeing since September 6, with the major issue being outsourcing policy. Boeing loses an estimated $100 million every day the strike continues.

Meanwhile, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace is set to start talks with Boeing reps on Tuesday. It's 20,000 employees have a contract which expires on December 1, and union leaders have said the same outsourcing issues producing the impasse for the machinists will be a major issue for SPEEA members.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports union Executive Director Ray Goforth issued a statement which said, "Engineers and technical workers are the life’s blood of Boeing, but the current regime at corporate headquarters treats them as mere vendors selling a service to Chicago. This disrespect has to end."

Pressure on the company to avoid a second strike is growing. Even though its plants have been shut down, Boeing has had to continue paying idled SPEEA members through the IAM strike. If an IAM settlement is closely followed by a SPEEA strike, IAM members will resume getting paid whether production can resume or not.

Boeing officials recently hinted to the Seattle business community that should the Pacific Northwest become known as a "strike zone," moving operations to a right-to-work state could become more attractive.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.goiam.org, www.speea.org

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