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A small group of machinists rallied outside Boeing's plant in Everett Tuesday. They want another chance to negotiate because they says the 777X is too big of a project to let go. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

Machinists make Boeing offer for 777X contract

Leaders of Boeing's Machinists union have made a preliminary proposal for a new contract that would secure 777X wing fabrication and final assembly work for Puget Sound, the union announced late Wednesday afternoon.

The union is not disclosing terms of the proposal, presented to Boeing leaders during a second day of talks led by IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner.

The two sides met for the first time Tuesday since Machinists overwhelmingly rejected a contract proposal that would have guaranteed the 777X stay in Washington state.

"We tried to craft a proposal that would meet the needs of our members, while also ensuring the long-term success of the Boeing Co. in Washington state," said Wroblewski in a statement.

Wroblewski said he expects Boeing will respond to the offer on Thursday.

"Our membership wants to build this airplane and we believe Boeing wants to do it here," said Wroblewski.

The talks are reportedly "serious," Seattle Times aviation reporter Dominic Gates tells KIRO Radio. He says a person with inside knowledge says "things are moving fast and that if the talks are successful, a new vote on a contract extension could be held before Christmas."

Leaders from across the state have been pushing for both sides to meet, and Governor Jay Inslee told KING 5 it was an encouraging sign.

"I think there's reason to believe we can have some serious discussions in the future."

As Conner and Wroblewski were talking in Renton Tuesday, a small group of machinists rallied outside Boeing's plant in Everett. They want another chance to negotiate because they say the 777X is too big of a project to let go.

"I think a lot of people are scared, and a lot of people don't think it will make a difference," one machinist said. "We're out here because we want to make a difference. We want to let people know that we are concerned and that we want the 777X to stay here."

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said he's had a lot of sleepless nights thinking about a future without Boeing in his city. It's something he knows would cripple the local economy. "Without the 777X, I think there would be significant job loss and for us that equates to revenue loss in our city and our ability to provide services going forward in the years to come would be severely hampered."

As many as 16 states were expected to submit bids to land the 777X to Boeing by Tuesday's deadline. Those packages will contain incentives and tax packages and promises that will rival what Washington has to offer.

Mayor Stephanson knows it's going to be tough to win this competition. "A lot of factors at play in this competition, and it's clearly not a sure thing for the state of Washington," he said.

Washington's most intense competition for this plane is expected to come from California, South Carolina and Missouri, but Alabama, Utah and Texas are also attractive.

Boeing says it will make its decision on where to build the plane early next year.

The company wants to start producing the planes in 2017, and it expects to deliver its first 777X in 2020. The line would create 8,500 direct jobs and pump billions of dollars into the local economy.

Boeing has already started wind tunnel testing of the plane outside London.

KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan contributed to this report.


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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