Union, Boeing leaders meet on 777X

By Liz Segrist
Published Dec. 11, 201

Amid the race for the 777X site, Boeing Co. executives and leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers met Tuesday.

Boeing said it is not in negotiations with the union. This was the first meeting between Boeing executives and Machinist union District 751 leadership since Nov. 13, when Machinists union members voted 2-1 to reject Boeing’s proposal for an eight-year contract extension.

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The meeting was not a formal negotiation session but, instead, was a chance for both sides to give feedback. No proposals were exchanged.

Since the union voted down the agreement, municipalities and states across the U.S. have been scrambling to pass incentives and submit proposals to Boeing in the hopes of nabbing some — or all — of the 777X work.

“At this juncture, it’s fair to say everyone who is vying for the 777X has a legitimate chance of snaring the work,” said Saj Ahmad — chief analyst with StrategicAero Research, an aerospace analysis and research consultancy — in an email. “Until it is actually awarded, we won’t know whose bid was what drove Boeing to them and why.”

Boeing plans to announce its 777X site or sites early next year.

“We have regular conversations with the union on a variety of topics, but those conversations are private. We are not in negotiations,” Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said in an emailed statement.

Union President Tom Wroblewski and Ray Conner, the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, met, along with other union and Boeing representatives.

Wroblewski has consistently said since the Nov. 13 vote that the union is open to further negotiations with Boeing.

“We remain committed to talks around the 777X placement,” Wroblewski said in a statement.

Among the other states vying for Boeing’s attention, Washington state leaders still hope to nab the work. Prior to the union vote, the state legislature passed $8.7 billion in tax incentives for the aerospace giant.

The 777X is a massive program that could bring thousands of jobs and millions in investment to an area for at least the next 25 years, Ahmad said. That kind of economic impact could sway the union to “do whatever Boeing asks of them to secure a deal,” Ahmad said.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or on Twitter @lizsegrist.

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