Boeing Workers Reject New Contract over Pensions

Could end up losing a new project in their area over it


A group of Boeing employees soundly rejected a contract offer aimed at keeping assembly work for the company's new 777X near Seattle, setting up a potential economic bonanza for lower-cost states hoping to land the project.

The contract was rejected by 67 percent of voters from the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, which counts about 30,000 workers in the Puget Sound region. "We preserved something sacred by rejecting the Boeing proposal," IAM District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said in a statement. "We've held on to our pensions and that's big. At a time when financial planners are talking about a 'retirement crisis' in America, we have preserved a tool that will help our members retire with more comfort and dignity."

The contract angered many union members because it sought to convert their traditional pension plan to a defined-benefit system, the kind that has become common across corporate America over the past two decades. The eight-year proposal also would offer a one percent wage increase every other year and would have extended the period for workers to reach the top pay scale from six to 16 years.