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Secret negotiations at Boeing net several key deals with union

Associated Press
Tom Wroblewski, center, president of Boeing Machinists Union District Lodge 751, announces Wednesday that the Boeing Co. and the Machinists union had reached a tentative agreement to build the new Boeing 737 MAX airplane in Renton, Wash.

Boeing and the Machinists union have apparently reached a four-year contract deal as well as a deal to build the 737 MAX in Renton and have the union’s labor complaint dropped.

“We look forward to new era of prosperity for IAM and Boeing,” said Tom Wroblewski, president of Machinists Union District 751.

Wroblewski added that the secret meetings started out as conversations about the 737 and evolved into a full-blown contract deal because outside influences were dampened and the negotiation climate was right.

Labor contract

The agreement would secure a new four-year collective bargaining contract between the union and the company nine months before the current contract expires and call for the 737 MAX aircraft to be built at union facilities in Renton, Wash.

Wroblewski said if union members vote to approve the agreement, the union would inform the National Labor Relations Board that it has no further grievances with Boeing.

One union member said added health insurance costs could be a sticking point in the new contract.

The NLRB filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that Boeing violated labor laws by opening a new production line for its 787 airplane in South Carolina.

“We will inform the government upon ratification (of this agreement) that all grievances are behind us and we're ready to move forward,” Wroblewski said.

Building the MAX

In the deal, the 737 MAX will be built in Renton, where 737s are currently assembled.

Boeing announced the 737 MAX in August. It will have new engines to improve fuel efficiency and compete with the Airbus A320neo. Boeing did not announce where the 737 MAX would be assembled. The state of Washington launched a campaign to retain jobs.

Boeing has more than 80,000 employees in Washington, mostly at the Renton factory and the widebody factory in Everett.

‘Center for aerospace’

Gov. Chris Gregoire commended Boeing and the union for an agreement that "shows a strong commitment by both sides to secure the future of aerospace in Washington state."

"Washington state is, and will continue to be, the world's premier center for aerospace known for building the safest and most innovative planes," she said in a statement. "In the last few years, I'm proud that Washington state has landed the 787, the Air Force refueling tanker, and now the 737 MAX."

Contract details

Union members in Washington, Oregon and Kansas are scheduled to vote Dec. 7 on the tentative agreement. It calls for annual wage increases of 2 percent, cost-of-living adjustments, an incentive program intended to pay bonuses between 2 and 4 percent, a ratification bonus of $5,000 for each member, and improvements in the pension program.