September 4, 2008

Boeing Strike Given 48-Hour Reprieve

A last-minute intervention by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire kept 27,000 Boeing workers at their jobs after a strike had been set, union leaders said.

Boeing assembly workers, including painters, machinists and electricians, voted to strike over a contract offer that included rising contributions to healthcare costs and job security issues, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Gregoire and a federal mediator stepped in to extend the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Worker's expiring contract by 48 hours. The strike was to begin at 12:01 a.m. PDT Thursday, the Post reported.

But, union negotiator Mark Blondin and Tom Wroblewksi, president of Machinists District Lodge 751, said the strike would begin Saturday, if Boeing didn't come up with an acceptable offer.

The confrontation is viewed as critical for unions in a business era that includes jobs moving overseas and diminishing wage increases. It is also critical for Boeing, which is trying to stay on schedule with its orders for fuel-efficient 787 commercial jets, the Post reported.