(ST. LOUIS) — Nearly 2,500 Boeing workers are set to go on strike next month after voting down a union contract on Sunday.
Workers at three St. Louis-area plants will begin the strike on Aug. 1 after rejecting an offer that insufficiently compensated workers through its retirement plan, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAMAW, told ABC News.
The contract included a $2 per hour increase in the base wage for all employees, which equates to an average 7.2% wage hike, Boeing said. Workers at the three St. Louis-area facilities make an average of $29.42 per hour, the union said.
The contract would also have improved the pace at which workers move up the wage scale and a deal would’ve included a $3,000 cash bonus for each worker if it had been ratified by Sunday, the company said.
In 2014, Boeing stopped offering a traditional pension plan for new hires, replacing it with a 401(k) that fails to adequately compensate workers, Jody Bennett, chief of staff of the IAMAW Aerospace Department, told ABC News.
“We cannot accept a contract that is not fair and equitable, as this company continues to make billions of dollars each year off the backs of our hardworking members,” IAMAW said in a statement.
“Boeing previously took away a pension from our members, and now the company is unwilling to adequately compensate our members’ 401(k) plan. We will not allow this company to put our members’ hard-earned retirements in jeopardy,” the union added.
The 401(k) plan offered in the contract features a dollar-for-dollar company match on 10% of a worker’s pay, Bennett said.
Plus, for the remainder of this year, the company will automatically put an amount equivalent to 4% of a worker’s pay into the 401(k), Bennett said. That automatic 401(k) investment from the company drops to 2% in 2023 and 2024 and is eliminated after 2024, he added.
“This is about that takeaway,” Bennett said. “We can’t recommend a takeaway.”
In a statement, Boeing lamented the union’s rejection of the contract.
“We are disappointed with Sunday’s vote to reject a strong, highly competitive offer,” the company said. “We are activating our contingency plan to support continuity of operations in the event of a strike.”
Boeing reported a loss of $1.2 billion in the first quarter of this year. The company brought in $62.2 billion revenue in 2021 after a resurgence in sales of its 737 MAX, which was grounded in 2019 after two crashes left 346 people dead. The Federal Aviation Agency lifted the grounding order in November 2020.
On Wednesday, the company will release earnings results for the second quarter.
“While it may be Boeing’s name that goes on those airplanes, it’s these people that do the work to make those airplanes,” IAMAW’s Bennett said.
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