PHILADELPHIA — About 1,400 striking Boeing Co. production workers were due to return to work at a helicopter plant near Philadelphia on Sunday, after their union and company management reached a tentative agreement, both sides said.
The breakthrough after an eight-day walkout at the facility in Ridley Township, Pa., came Saturday after negotiators for the Chicago-based aerospace company withdrew a proposal on work-rule flexibility that workers said threatened their seniority rights, union officials said.
Members of United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 1069 were expected to hold a contract ratification vote within a week.
"I think this is as close to a fair and equitable contract as we could have gotten," UAW Local 1069 President John DeFrancisco told reporters after nearly five hours of negotiations.
A Boeing hotline said UAW members would begin returning to work for a Sunday night shift at the facility, which manufactures the CH-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
The plant, which employs 4,900 people, also is slated to produce the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, currently in the engineering and design phase.
UAW workers walked off their jobs early Sept. 14 after talks deadlocked over seniority rights and Boeing demands for employee contributions to rising health insurance premiums.
The two sides met briefly with a federal mediator last week.
But officials said progress came at the urging of two Pennsylvania congressmen, Democratic Rep. Robert A. Brady and Republican Rep. Curt Weldon, who warned that the strike could jeopardize government contracts that were already vulnerable to cuts.