Angry Boeing machinists call for revote

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

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Everett, Wash. - More than two dozen angry Boeing machinists rallied in Everett Monday. "Two hours of standing in line to get back to make that vote," said one machinist. Boeing machinists are upset about a vote they say their own international union rammed through. The way to resolve that, they say, is a revolt.

"Have a revote," said William Woods, who has been a Boeing machinist for more than 20 years. "You want a revote?" a KIRO-7 reporter asked. "Yeah, because most of our people weren't even back from vacation yet," replied Woods. "You wouldn't want us to build our airplane half way?" asked James White, a Boeing machinist for 17 years. "Why would you expect us as union memberships to vote on a contract that affects our lives and everybody else's lives the way they did?"

Friday's vote was ordered by the president of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace workers. It came during what is traditionally a long Christmas break for Boeing workers. Still, nearly 24,000 machinists -- about 75 percent of machinists -- cast ballots. Fifly-one percent voted yes, a margin of just 600 votes in favor of a contract cutting out their benefits and pension but ensuring the new 777X aircraft will be built here. "That's 37 percent deciding the fate for 10 years."

A dispirited Connie Kelliher, a member of the local union leadership, said they, too, felt betrayed by the international union. "We appealed every way we could to the Iinternational president to move it one business day to today when a lot of the members that are on vacation and do the extended holiday would be back," said Kelliher. "And he said no."

Now the machinists say they want the wrong righted. "A lot of people were angry," said Sara Baumgardner, who has been a Boeing employee for three years. "You know I'm supposed to be in Vegas right now. And I'm here doing this vote."

Two machinists filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board before Friday's vote. An investigation could take three months. Meanwhile, union leaders say since International President Thomas Buffenbarger ordered the vote, only he can order a revote.

KIRO-7 has a call into Buffenbarger and will let you know when we hear back.

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