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Union Approves 777X Contract

Max Schwartz |
January 3, 2014 | 10:32 p.m. PST

Senior Reporter

(The Boeing Co./Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons)
(The Boeing Co./Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons)
Members of the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 voted to accept the most recent contract Boeing Co. offered the union members. By a narrow margin of 51 percent, the union voted to accept the new contract. 

District 751's approval of the contract keeps the production of the wing and the final construction of the airplane in Washington.

The 777X is the next generation Boeing 777, a twin-isle and twin-engine jet. According to the New Airplane website, "its GE9X engine is the most advanced, fuel-effiecient commericial engine ever." The plane will have a longer wing a a wing similar to the 787, both of which improve fuel effieciency. 

"Despite individual differences, I believe this vote preserves thousands of good-paying IAM jobs, while assuring the success of the 777X program," said Tom Buffenbarger, the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President.

The eight-year contract would start in 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times. Despite the negative consequences of the new contract, the Times also reported that employees would receive more dental benefits and additional signing bonuses. One negative consequence for new employees is that they would have a 401(k) retirement plan instead of a pension.

The passage of the contract, which will keep the airliner in the Puget Sound region, prevents a downgrade of the state's credit rating—something that was likely to happen had production of the 777X been moved to another state. The production line will keep an estimated 10,000 jobs in Washington, a blow that state legislators wanted to avoid.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee praised the deal shortly after 10:20 p.m. 

Had the union members rejected the contract, Boeing would have sought out another state from which to produce its 777X twin-isle jet. California submitted a bid to bring the 777X to the Golden State. Both the governor and Long Beach city leaders were hoping that the production line could replace the C-17 Globemaster III, which is currently being built in Long Beach, but will conclude production in 2015.

Reach Senior Reporter Max Schwartz here; follow him on Twitter here.



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