Local Boeing firefighters hit the picket line for livable wages

May 6, 2024, 6:10 PM | Updated: May 21, 2024, 4:17 pm

Photo: Boeing firefighters are on the picket line after contract negotiations broke down Saturday....

Boeing firefighters are on the picket line after contract negotiations broke down Saturday. (Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio)

Boeing firefighters are on the picket line after contract negotiations broke down Saturday morning at 12:01. The issue is money. Firefighters said they are so underpaid that retaining qualified firefighters is nearly impossible.

“Our guys are coming in at $25 per hour and are a couple thousand dollars away from being eligible for food stamps, right now,” union Vice President John Riggsby said.

Union leaders said that has led to a revolving door at Boeing’s private fire department and paramedics are included.

Background: Boeing locks out private firefighters in Seattle over pay dispute with strike looming

“Despite extensive discussions through an impartial federal mediator, we did not reach an agreement with the union,” Boeing said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “We have now locked out members of the bargaining unit and fully implemented our contingency plan with highly qualified firefighters performing the work of (union) members.”

The company offered firefighters a pay raise, but union reps said it was not enough to ensure the safety of firefighters and Boeing employees who depend on the private team of firefighters as its first responders.

“They’re having to either work a second job or find employment elsewhere, so we’re having a hard time keeping people in our department because of that,” Riggsby said.

The firefighters serve as first responders to fires and medical emergencies and can call in help from local fire departments.

There is no word yet on when or if contract negotiations might resume.

Firefighters said they will stay on the picket line as long as possible. None of them is getting any kind of compensation while on the picket line.

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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Local Boeing firefighters hit the picket line for livable wages