Boeing protest980
Protesters and counter-protesters met in front of the Everett union hall Wednesday afternoon where they had a spirited debate over whether there should be another vote on a contract that would secure the 777X. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

Tension builds at Everett Machinist rally

The debate over whether Machinists should be allowed to take another vote on a new contract guaranteeing work on the 777X was heated out in front of the union hall Wednesday afternoon.

About a dozen protesters were met by another dozen or so counter-protesters.

"The difference between that first proposal? Our negotiating team was not part of it. Tom was there. Our business reps were not part of that," one Machinist shouted at another. "This time they were. And those business reps, one by one, all said 'We cannot take this to our membership. It's not good enough.' That's the difference."

"We don't care what your opinion is. It's a different contract," a Machinist shouted in reply. "We have the right to vote on it. It's not their choice. If it's a different contract, we have the right to vote. That's in the bylines."

767 worker and rally organizer Paul Fritzler and other protesters said they want a chance to vote on a proposed contract from Boeing that would guarantee work on the new 777X.

Union leaders rejected Boeing's offer last week saying it was far too similar to the contract the members voted-down by a 2-to-1 margin last month.

The offer was contingent on union leaders recommending a yes vote. The leaders said they couldn't recommend a contract that included the end of the current pension system.

But Fritzler believes it unrealistic to expect the pension system to survive. He's seen pensions dry up around the country. He thinks the 401(k) system Boeing is offering is good enough, but he said longtime union members seem intent on sacrificing jobs for the pension.

"They're in it for them, and they don't care what happens to the younger generation or to Western Washington as a whole," he said.

Boeing said it will have its list of finalists for the 777X production site by the end of the week, and it still plans to have a decision on where the plane will be built by next month. Twenty-two states, including Washington are in the running. Boeing is looking at 54 sites in those states in this process.

The 777X represents billions of dollars in economic impact on Washington each year and tens of thousands of jobs.

KIRO Radio Staff, Staff report
Straight from the newsdesk.
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