Talks Collapse Between Boeing, Machinists

Mike Baker, Associated Press
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The logo of US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. (Photo credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

The logo of US aircraft manufacturer Boeing. (Photo credit: ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing and Puget Sound-area machinists can’t even agree on how their latest contract talks came to an end.

Local machinists spokesman Bryan Corliss said Friday that the company withdrew its latest contract offer after union leaders told Boeing Co. they could not recommend the proposal to members.

“At this point, Boeing has rescinded the offer, so we have nothing to take to our members,” Corliss said.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder, however, said while negotiations have stalled, the contract offer is still on the table and in the union’s hands.

The two sides have had a tumultuous month, with the rejection of a contract in November and a restart of talks Tuesday that fell apart Thursday. Both sides have been exploring a deal that would secure the production of the new 777X airplane in the Puget Sound and the thousands of jobs that come with it.

Boeing made some changes to its original contract proposal, backing away from a proposal that would slow the rate at which employees rise up the pay scale and adding an additional $5,000 in bonus pay. The biggest sticking point appears to be the company’s insistence that workers move from a traditional defined-benefit pension to a defined-contribution savings plan.

The machinists said the company’s latest proposal was too high of a price to pay for secure the 777X.

Looming over the talks is the prospect that the company could build the airplane elsewhere. Boeing said it has received proposals from 22 states eager for the 777X jobs, with some proposing multiple sites. The company said 54 sites are now being evaluated.

In its own bid to win the 777X jobs, Washington state recently approved tax breaks for Boeing valued at $9 billion over the coming years, along with legislation to improve aerospace training programs and the permitting process.

Chicago-based Boeing began offering the 777X in May, but it’s still finalizing plans for the plane and aiming to deliver the first aircraft by the end of the decade. Boeing has said it is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and be more fuel efficient than the current 777.

At the Dubai Airshow last month, Boeing received orders for 225 such planes from three airlines.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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