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Boeing May Face Strike by Union

September 08, 2002|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Boeing Co.'s largest union ended talks with federal mediators Friday night, blaming the aerospace company for failing to budge on any key issues in its contract offer.

The machinists' union said it will soon schedule a new vote on the company's offer from Aug. 27, and will urge members to reject the proposal and vote to strike.

''Boeing refused to seriously engage on any of the key issues,'' said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Assn. Of Machinists. ''Our members hold the key and will vote as soon as practicable on Boeing's final offer.''

The company's largest union represents 25,000 Boeing production workers in Washington state, Portland, Ore., and Wichita, Kan. Union members have been working without a contract since Sunday.

The announcement Friday night came after the nation's top mediator, Peter Hurtgen, spent 2 1/2 days talking with union negotiators in Washington, D.C. and phoning Boeing negotiators in Seattle.

In the midst of the union's original vote on the contract offer and possible strike authorization, Hurtgen's office, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, had asked the two sides to come to Washington, D.C. Those ballots were sealed by the union's president and have not been counted.

Boeing officials refused to meet with the union but did meet with the mediator to explain their offer.

''We have said all along that we have done everything possible within reason to put a good offer on the table. We feel we have done that despite the economic times and we stand behind our offer,'' Boeing spokesman Chuck Cadena said Friday night. ''The vote we hope [will be] trustworthy, fair and immediate.''

The company's three-year contract offer provides an 8% ratification bonus, and raises of 2% and 2.5% in the second and third years.

The company has refused a union proposal to link the level of employment to airplane deliveries or other business benchmarks, a critical issue for the union, whose membership has dropped by 25% due to layoffs in the last year.

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