Boeing, Machinists end talks without an agreement; strike continues

The Boeing Co. and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on Monday ended a second round of mediated negotiations to end a 38-day strike without an agreement and no new talks planned.

“In light of the current business environment and global market challenges we face, we had hoped we could find a way to move forward. We worked very hard to find solutions, and we are extremely disappointed that the talks broke off,” said Doug Kight, Boeing vice president of Human Resources, in a statement.

“We want to resolve this strike so employees can return to work, but we cannot sacrifice our ability to continuously improve productivity and our long-term competitiveness for an agreement. Given current economic conditions, it is now more important than ever that we retain the ability to respond to a dynamic, uncertain environment,” he said.

Approximately 27,000 employees in Washington, Oregon and Kansas have been on strike since Sept. 6. That includes about 5,000 union members at Boeing facilities in Renton.

A comment from the Machinists union was not immediately available. Both sides had agreed to a media blackout while they talked, with no statements to be made publicly.

“We remain cautiously optimistic Boeing will negotiate fairly and address members’ issues,” the union said in an earlier statement on its Web site.

The new round of talks began late last week.

Job security has been a major issue for the company’s Machinists.

Boeing Machinists gathered for a solidarity barbecue at the Carpenters Hall in Renton Friday, in advance of the resumption of negotiations – apparently late last week, according to media reports.

The barbecue, with hot dogs, hamburgers and music, was at the Carpenters Hall on Burnett Avenue North.

Spirits were high at the Carpenters Hall and on the picket lines Friday in Renton. Strikers so far have received two $150 strike checks to help them cover their daily expenses.

Jerry Parkison, 66, of Maple Valley got one of the first hamburgers at the barbecue. He retired on March 31. His first strike was in 1965, when the weekly strike pay was $13. That strike lasted 19 days.

“The company is not taking care of its assets,” said Parkison, in this case, its workers. If Boeing doesn’t, he said, the company “will end up just like everyone else.”

Jimmy Darrah, the union business representative in Auburn, handed Parkison his hamburger.

Union members are “hanging in their pretty strong,” he said.

Picketers say those workers who have weathered strikes in the past had prepared financially for the strike. Many also relied on the income of others in their families.

Gary Boyett of Kent has worked for Boeing for 30 years. He manned the picket lines at the Renton plant.

Late last week, he was expecting some resolution soon.

“If there’s something to work out, it shouldn’t take too long,” he said.

The strike has stopped production of the 737 at the sprawling Renton plant. The union represents production workers there.

Non-Machinists continued to work. Unions representing Boeing workers agree in their contracts that they won’t honor the picket lines of other striking unions.