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Why does Boeing Machinist union leadership want a no vote?

Boeing machinist Eddie Bjorgo greets fellow workers heading to a union hall to cast ballots with signs urging a "no" vote Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Everett, Wash. Boeing machinists decide Friday whether to accept a contract that would concede some pension and health care benefits in order to secure assembly of the company's new 777X airplane in Washington state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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Taken from Friday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.

The Boeing Machinists have to decide if they're going to vote yes or no on this offer that's going to keep 777X jobs in the Puget Sound area.

As I've said all along, every single Machinist has to just decide what is in their best interest. And I don't really have much of a say in whether they choose to vote yes or no.

But I think we all have a vested interest in the outcome because our economy is still largely dependent on Boeing. We would see Snohomish County just devastated if Boeing leaves the region.

Here are some of the details: They get a $15,000 bonus if they sign this, $10,000 now and $5,000 down the road. They start at $25,000 for a job that requires a high school education. Then within six years, they're all making between $66,000 and $75,000 and they top out at $100,000.

A big part of the dispute is about the pension. Well, pensions have largely disappeared in the private sector, and what they're offering in the 401K is a 10 percent 401K. You don't have to put anything in, but the company will contribute 10 percent of your salary every year to a 401K. It is a ginormously wonderful package by private sector standards.

To an awful lot of my people, they hear this and say, how in the world does an individual say no to that?

The union is pushing for a no vote. We invited Connie Kelleher, a spokesperson for IAM Local 751 on the show to explain why they want the vote to go that way.

First off, she says analysts agree that the best place for Boeing to build the 777X is in the Puget Sound area.

"If you weigh all the odds and everything tells you that the best place to build it is right here with the least amount of risk, then you should make the right decision regardless of our contract."

The cost of worker pay and benefits is a very small part of the cost of the aircraft, Kelleher says.

"Our members pay and benefits are less than 5 percent of the airplane cost."

Keeping the 777X in the Puget Sound area is the smart decision for Boeing, Kelleher says, adding that the company can't afford more delays like it faced with the 787.

"The 787 was a complete debacle for this company. They cannot afford to have that again or they will lose airline customers permanently in the future," says Kelleher. "So if you step back and you look at what is the smart business decision, if the smart business decision is to put it here in the state of Washington, then that is the decision they should make."

"We're faced with a choice to destroy everything we've built over 78 years to save Boeing from making a bad business decision. That's not on the backs of our members," says Kelleher. "That is a decision Boeing has to make."

While the union wants a no vote, Kelleher says ultimately, it's up to the members.

"I'm hoping that they resoundingly say no to the company, and that the company looks and makes the smart business decision to put the 777X here."

Taken from Friday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.

Related:
Boeing Machinists voting on contract tied to new 777X

JS

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Listen to Dori Monson every weekday at 12noon on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. Seattle's News, Seattle's Talk.

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