Boeing Firefighters Are Going Back to Work

Locked-out union members approve new contract
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2024 2:05 PM CDT
Updated May 30, 2024 6:35 PM CDT
As Talks Stall, Boeing Locks Out Private Firefighters
Boeing employees work on the 737 MAX on the final assembly line at a plant in Renton, Washington, in 2022.   (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
UPDATE May 30, 2024 6:35 PM CDT

Boeing firefighters ratified a new contract that includes significant pay increases and expect to return to work this weekend, their union said Thursday. The lockout lasted more than three weeks, the AP reports. The deal guarantees four hours of overtime pay for each 24-hour shift, boosting pay an average of $21,000 per year. Employees also will receive annual raises of 2% to 3% through 2027 and hit the top pay scale in 10 years instead of the current 14, the union said. "This is a win for us," said Casey Yeager, president of the union local. Boeing did not immediately comment.

May 4, 2024 2:05 PM CDT

Boeing has locked out its private force of firefighters who protect its aircraft-manufacturing plants in the Seattle area and brought in replacements after the latest round of negotiations with the firefighters union failed to deliver an agreement on wages. The company said Saturday that it locked out about 125 firefighters, the AP reports. They serve as first responders to fires and medical emergencies and can call in help from local fire departments. It's the first time in more than four decades that a group of firefighters has been locked out in the US, per ABC News.

Boeing and the union remain far apart in the negotiations, which have been going on for 2½ months. Each side accuses the other of negotiating in bad faith. "We have now locked out members of the bargaining unit and fully implemented our contingency plan with highly qualified firefighters performing the work of (union) members," the company said in a statement. The International Association of Firefighters union said Saturday that the lockout is intended to "punish, intimidate and coerce its firefighters into accepting a contract that undervalues their work." The company said its operations won't be affected; the union said the lockout puts the safety of Boeing installations at risk, per the AP.

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The company said Saturday that its latest proposal includes general annual wage increases and a new compensation structure for firefighters on a 24-hour shift schedule that would result in an average increase of about $21,000 a year. Boeing said firefighters were paid $91,000 on average last year. The union, which argues Boeing has saved billions in insurance costs by employing its own on-site firefighters, has said it's seeking raises of 40% to 50%. Boeing's proposal would still leave crews earning 20% to 30% less than firefighters in the cities where Boeing plants are located, the union said. A major sticking point is the service time required to hit the top of the pay scale, which is now 14 years. Boeing wants to make it 19, the union seeks five years.

(More Boeing stories.)

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