MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Boeing and its firefighters reach tentative agreement

May 29, 2024, 6:50 AM | Updated: 7:02 am

Image: A sign against the lockout of the Boeing firefighters can be seen at a one of firefighters' ...

A sign against the lockout of the Boeing firefighters can be seen at a one of firefighters' picket lines in May 2024. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Boeing firefighter strike may be coming to an end after months of fruitless negotiations, with the company at one time allegedly locking the firefighters out of facilities.

The company and the union representing the firefighters, IAFF Local I-66, stated they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a contract, according to KIRO 7.

No details on the deal are yet available, as of this reporting.

Firefighters still have to vote on the contract. The results of the vote are expected Thursday afternoon. If the contract is approved, firefighters could be back on the job Saturday morning, according to KIRO 7.

Boeing firefighters rejecting earlier proposals

Boeing firefighters overwhelmingly rejected the company’s previous contract offer on May 22 to the union, IAFF Local I-66, after they stepped away from picket lines for the first time since May 4.

There are about 125 firefighters in the unit, stationed across the Puget Sound and Moses Lake and represented by the IAFF Local I-66 union.

“This round of negotiations resulted in Boeing presenting its second, ‘Best and Final Offer,’ a contradiction in terms, and a clear sign of the corporate giant’s complete lack of respect for our members,” IAFF General President Edward A. Kelly said, according to KIRO 7.

Boeing responded to the firefighter’s rejection with a prepared statement.

“It’s unfortunate the union’s leadership has continued its pattern of bad faith bargaining. The union earlier accepted and agreed to endorse our strong offer which provides an average of $21,000 in increased take-home pay and additional wage increases,” Boeing stated, according to KIRO 7. “Our contingency plan remains in place and ensures that we can provide the same levels of safety and emergency response with highly qualified firefighters indefinitely.”

Boeing said the four-year deal it offered would have raised the firefighters’ average pay 23.1% from $91,000 to $112,000 in the first year with additional pay raises to follow. The company also stated the offer included an “improved wage growth schedule.”

Boeing locked out its firefighters earlier this month after they threatened to strike. The firefighters had been on the picket line since, until the two parties agreed on a tentative deal May 29.

Previous coverage: Boeing locks out private firefighters in Seattle

Other union members show up to support Boeing firefighters

As KIRO 7 explained in a story published Saturday, around 300 union workers across Washington joined Boeing firefighters on the picket line in Seattle last Saturday. The first responders have been picketing in six different locations, including Renton, Seattle, Auburn and Everett.

Representatives from more than 400 state and local unions took turns to join the efforts in Seattle near the intersection of East Marginal Way South and 14th Avenue South, leaders said, KIRO 7 stated.

As dozens lined the street outside of Boeing, hundreds of others were preparing at a nearby site.

“This is really about safety. It’s inconceivable to me and to a lot of people in the labor movement that Boeing would choose to lockout their firefighters at a time where the whole world is watching their failure to provide safety in the workplace,” April Sims, president of the Washington State Labor Council, said, according to KIRO 7.

Sims added they wanted to stand in solidarity with Boeing firefighters as they urge the global company to negotiate “fairly with their firefighters.”

“This fight is about not just about the firefighters who are doing the work at Boeing today, but future firefighters who want to join this profession. This is about pay equity, dignity, and respect. And Boeing’s decision to lockout their firefighters puts all of their employees and rest of the workers at their plants at risk,” Sims said, KIRO 7 reported.

“It is the cornerstone of the work that we do to make sure when folks go to work, they can work in a safe environment and they can get home to their families that they love and care about,” Sims added.

‘We’re having a hard time keeping people in our department’

Boeing firefighters got to the picket line after contract negotiations broke down May 4 at 12:01 a.m. A member of the firefighters union’s executive team previously told KIRO Newsradio they are so underpaid that retaining qualified firefighters is nearly impossible.

Locked out: Local Boeing firefighters hit the picket line for livable wages

“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.

“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.

KIRO Newsradio has reached out to the firefighters union for an updated comment on the contract offer, but have not yet heard back.

Contributing: KIRO 7; James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio; Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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