New Boeing contract splits engineers, tech workers

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SPEEA went on strike for 40 days in 2000.

“With this second rejection by technical workers of Boeing takeaways, it’s time for the company to stop wasting resources and improve its offer to reflect the value and contributions technical workers bring to Boeing,” SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth said in a statement. “That way, we can avoid a strike and focus on fixing the problems of the 787 and restoring customer confidence in Boeing.”

The latest labor unrest is happening as U.S. regulators launch an open-ended review of the 787’s design and construction. Last month, a battery on a parked 787 caught fire in Boston. On Jan. 16, another 787 made an emergency landing in Japan after another battery problem.

All 50 787s that Boeing had delivered so far are grounded until the issue is resolved.

The union’s nearly 23,000 employees are mostly in the Puget Sound region. Union leaders believe a strike would shut down Boeing production lines in Everett, Wash., where its big planes are made, as well as in Renton, Wash., where it cranks out the widely used 737.

The factory-floor assembly work is done by the members of the International Association of Machinists. The Machinists approved a new, four-year contract in December 2011, after a walkout in 2008 that contributed to a 3 1/2-year delay in delivering the first 787.

It was also a factor in Boeing opening a plant in South Carolina, where laws make it more difficult to unionize.

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