Boeing machinists pass contract, avoid strike

By Reuters
Posted June 28, 2010 at 5:46 a.m.

Boeing workers in St. Louis have agreed to a contract with the plane manufacturer, avoiding a strike that would have gone into effect today if the deal had been rejected.The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said the contract passed Sunday by a vote of 1,237 to 838.

The union had said its workers in St. Louis were prepared to strike starting at midnight Monday if the vote had failed.

The main contention against the four-and-a-half year proposal was a clause that would place workers hired after January 2012 in a retirement plan based on company contributions instead of in a traditional pension.

Union spokesman Tom Pinksi said that clause remained in place after the second round of negotiations. However, the approved contract removed language that would have dropped an employee’s dependent health care coverage if the worker took a medical leave of absence for more than six months. The new contract allows for 30 months of coverage.

A Boeing spokesman didn’t immediately return a message left seeking comment on Sunday.

The contract covers 2,533 Boeing workers, most of them in St. Louis, and operations in Maryland and elsewhere. The workers make the FA-18 Super Hornet fighter jet, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and the F-15 Strike Eagle ground attack strike fighter as well as parts for the C-17 Air Force cargo plane, which is assembled at the Long Beach plant.

Earlier this month, a monthlong strike by Boeing workers at the Chicago-based company’s C-17 Long Beach plant in California ended after workers approved a contract there. The strike had shut down production of the military cargo jets.

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