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Union calls for Boeing strike

Workers are urged to reject a contract offer and walk off the job.

August 30, 2008|From Bloomberg News

Boeing Co.'s largest union urged members to reject the plane maker's contract offer next week and walk off the job in a strike that would shut down production and might further delay the 787 Dreamliner.

The International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers also filed unfair labor practice charges against Boeing for "direct dealing with our members," union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said Friday near Seattle, the Chicago-based company's manufacturing hub.

Managers met with workers "to enhance their own bargaining position, undermine the union and intimidate our members," Kelliher said.

Boeing, saying it wanted more open communication with the 27,000 machinists, posted full proposal terms online during talks instead of letting union leaders present details to members themselves as usual. The company cut off bargaining Thursday, six days before the current contract expires, to give workers time to study the new terms before they vote. The final offer included an 11% increase in base pay over three years.

"We're extremely disappointed that the union is recommending that our employees reject what adds up to the best contract in the aerospace industry," Boeing spokesman Tim Healy said. "We hope our employees recognize the value of this offer. It is our best and final."

A walkout this year, which might come as soon as Thursday amid a record order backlog and efforts to get Dreamliner production back on track, could cost Boeing $120 million a day in lost revenue, Jefferies & Co. analyst Howard Rubel estimates. A strike also might keep Boeing from reclaiming the position of world's largest plane maker from Airbus, the Toulouse, France-based rival that's built more planes annually since 2003.

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