LOS ANGELES A
divided International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers (IAM) union narrowly approved an eight-year contract
extension that will ensure continued production of Boeing
Co.s 777 airliner, as well as its new derivative 777X in
the Pacific Northwest.
representing 30,000 IAM members in Washington, Portland, Ore.,
and Wichita, Kan., voted 51 percent to accept the Chicago-based
companys most recent proposal, which would extend their
current contract to 2024 from 2016 while accepting significant
concessions that will replace traditional defined-benefit
pensions with defined-contribution, 401(k)-type retirement
Before the vote,
Boeing was evaluating proposals from 22 states representing 54
sites for production of the 777X and the new wing. The company
said in December that it was narrowing these candidates "down
to a handful," a process it expected to be completed early this
amm.com, Dec. 18).
The final assembly
site for the 777 is Boeings Everett, Wash., facility.
The leadership of the
IAMs largest Boeing local union, District 751 in Seattle,
was against holding a third vote after the aerospace
giants proposals were rejected twice. But a majority of
members insisted on the vote being held.
international leadership had no recommendation on the
extension, although it supported the local members right
to a third vote, an IAM spokesman at the unions
headquarters in Washington, D.C., said.
"It was a
controversial proposal on either side," he said. He maintained,
however, that "too much has been made" of the rift between
generally younger IAM members who supported the extension in
order to maintain their role on the 777 and older members
intent on preserving their traditional pensions.
The contract extension
means the 777X and its composite wing will be built in the
Puget Sound area by IAM members, Boeing said, noting that this
includes construction of the fuselage, the planes final
assembly in Everett and the fabrication of major components
such as interiors and wires.
"This will put our
work force on the cutting edge of composite technology, while
sustaining thousands of local jobs for years to come," Ray
Conner, president and chief executive officer of the
companys Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit, said.
Fabrication of a new
composite wing from its present aluminum construction would
presumably bring the titanium content of the 777X above the
present models estimated titanium buy weight of about
150,000 pounds, according to industry estimates, since
composites are normally associated with greater use of