The Boeing Company has avoided another costly strike after a critical deal was struck between executives and union leaders that both are calling a “win-win.” Under an agreement forged last week and ratified by Machinist union members on Wednesday, Boeing will move ahead with a new, non-union plant in South Carolina to assemble its 787 airplane, while also guaranteeing work on another aircraft—the 737 Max—at union facilities in Renton, WA. In exchange for work guarantees on the 737 Max, union leaders will withdraw the federal lawsuit it filed through the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing.
In its lawsuit, union leaders alleged that Boeing opened the non-union 787 plant in South Carolina as payback for past strikes. While Boeing claims strictly economic reasons for the move, losing the 787 without new work could have jeopardized scores of state jobs and Washington’s leadership in the aerospace industry.
The deal, which was ratified by Machinists Union members as part of a four-year collective bargaining agreement, ends the latest dispute between Boeing and union leaders. Three of the last four agreement negotiations have ended in strikes. In recent months, the dispute had received national attention as debate over unions and collective bargaining rights continue to have implications for the 2012 elections.