Battle over Boeing pits union against company

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

Some Machinists Union members are firing back at Boeing for offering a contract it says will determine whether work on its 777X jet will be in Washington state.

"It's just a scare tactic," Boeing worker Larry Smith said.

Boeing says if the union doesn't approve the contract on Wednesday, it will look at pursuing other locations for the 777X. 

Other workers rallied outside the Boeing plant in Everett Friday morning. 

"It's ridiculous," Smith said, "taking away the pension and putting these people on a 401(k) plan."

KIRO 7 asked him if he was willing to risk that guaranteed 777X work and potentially his job by rejecting the contract.
"Yeah," Smith said.

In addition to the pension changes, which replace the current pension plan with an accelerated company-contribution savings plan, the contract changes pay.

Employees at the lowest pay level start at $11 an hour and max out at $18.97. Employees at the highest pay level, like advanced electronics specialists, start at $22 an hour and max out at $43.34. Workers said the new contract would require employees to work years longer to reach the top of the scale. The contract also includes $10,000 signing bonuses.

Smith believes there is too much infrastructure already in Washington state for the company to move the work elsewhere.

But Jone Tukana wasn't so sure.

"Are you worried about Washington state losing the contract and it going to South Carolina?" KIRO 7 asked. 
"Of course," Tukana said. "I'm worried about that generation that will have no work."

Brent Smith, who recently started at Boeing, wants more information. He said Boeing's medical plan is still strong, though there are some cost increases.

"There's a lot of panic right now, there is," he said, "and there doesn't need to be as much panic."

He wants union officials to push back the vote.

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