by: Chris Legeros Updated:
EVERETT, Wash. - Their numbers were undeniably small - only 50 machinists marched Wednesday from the Everett plant to the Machinists Union Hall.
They pleaded for a chance to vote on Boeing's latest contract offer. Paul Fritzler said, "This is not how to vote, but rather our right to vote."
Union leaders said the eight-year extension wasn't that much different than the last one that was rejected by a 2 to 1 margin in November.
They couldn't endorse it and wouldn't bring it to a vote. Kevin Flynn summed up the biggest sticking point as he held up a sign saying "We already voted no."
Flynn said, "The issue is not having a fixed pension."
Boeing has proposed eliminating the traditional pension plan in favor of retirement savings accounts.
The switch isn't that big a deal for Stephan Good. Good said, "Defined pensions are going out, 401s are the way to go. You get to manage your own money. Why wouldn't you want to do that?"
Good and other machinists are fearful that Boeing will take the 777X program elsewhere if it doesn't get the labor concessions it wants in Washington.
Machinist Matt Moeller said, "It's all speculation, but I'm not willing to call the bluff."
Other machinists attended the rally to urge support for union leadership.
They told the marchers not to be so willing to give up benefits that took decades to win at the bargaining table.