The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 24      June 21, 2010


As we go to press…
United Auto Workers Local 148 announced June 9 that 822 members voted in favor of the proposed contract with Boeing and 544 opposed it.

(front page)
Boeing strikers keep pressure
on bosses in fight for contract
Militant/Naomi Craine
Striking Boeing workers picket outside company offices in Long Beach, California, June 3.

LONG BEACH, California, June 8—Workers on strike here against Boeing reestablished picket lines after they were taken down in preparation for a June 9 vote on a proposed contract settlement. The plant builds C-17 military transport planes.

The strike by the 1,700 members of UAW Local 148 began May 11. A proposed contract was reached June 4 after a federal mediator met with the company and the union negotiating committee. Union officials then took down picket lines and locked the union hall.

About 40 workers, many of whom had arrived for picket duty, gathered the next morning outside the locked union hall. They decided to spread the word for strikers to meet outside the hall at 6:00 a.m. June 7 to talk to the negotiating committee.

Several hundred workers showed up. Many were angry the picket lines had been taken down and felt that the proposed agreement changed little from one previously rejected by a big margin. Workers decided to reestablish the picket line while they considered the tentative agreement.

“They were unauthorized to ever take it down,” Ronda Johnson, who has worked at Boeing 25 years, told the Militant at the picket line today. “When you're on strike, you're on strike. Until the contract is ratified, we're supposed to be out here. When we got back Monday, the membership said, ‘No, it's not over 'til it's over.’ That's why we're back out here.”

William Judge, who also has 25 years at Boeing, said, “The union hall should be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the contract is ratified.”

Dan Cooley, a 30-year Boeing veteran, said the union officials “prematurely supposed that everyone was going to go for it. We go by majority rule. They presupposed most people would buy it, but I'm not so sure they will. We'll see tomorrow.”

According to reports in the media, the agreement lengthens the contract from four to five years. It includes a $2-per-year-of-service monthly increase in the pension offer, and increases the employee’s payment for health insurance from 12 percent to 13 percent, instead of the initial company proposal of 15 percent. Workers get no wage increase in the first year, and instead get a $4,000 lump-sum payment. They would receive a 3 percent wage increase annually after the first year.

"Boeing put together a good deal here," UAW Local 148 president Stan Klemchuk told the Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, workers at the Boeing plant in St. Louis, which also produces military equipment, face a June 13 contract expiration. Members of International Association of Machinists District 37 voted in May to authorize a strike by a 99 percent majority.

Some workers here believe the federal mediator pushed for a rapid settlement to avoid overlapping strikes.

Ollie Bivins, a member of UAW Local 148, contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Lockout of workers ends at Co-op City in Bronx
On the Picket Line  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home