Boeing Machinists are on the picket lines as of midnight Saturday morning. KAKE News was there as workers picked up signs and began their strike. The strike affects some 750 workers in Wichita.
The strike threatens to cost Boeing upwards of $100-million a day, according to the union. Some 27,000 machinists in Washington state, Oregon and Kansas voted down the company's contract offer by 80%, with another 87% voting to strike.
"We're going to follow through with what we said. We are here and willing to meet at any time," said Steve Rooney, a spokesman for the machinists.
Boeing officials say the contract offered to machinists is the best in the industry. There is no word when talks may resume.
"We know the issues were addressed but we couldn't get close enough to an agreement," said Forrest Gossett, a spokesman for Boeing.
The company offered workers raises over three years, plus a signing bonus and a cost-of-living increase, but union officials say issues of job security and rising health care costs could not be resolved.
"One of the big concerns is retention, and the use of special retention and no regulations for the use of special retention," said Ruth Kiker, a machinists.
Some union members said it would have actually cost them money in the end when it came to things like medical benefits.
"Basically the coverage was going to cost you a lot more money, plus you'd be paying more monthly so that makes a big difference," said Kiker.
This strike could also impact Spirit workers as well. During the 2005 Boeing strike, Spirit was put on a 3-day work week. Spirit hasn't announced it's plans yet for how they'll handle this strike.
On it's website, the IAM Local 751 announced Friday that talks between the union and Boeing finally broke down. Here is the statement:
Brothers and sisters:
The strike will commence at one minute after midnight tonight. This Company disrespected the process, bargained illegally and most of all, disrespected the finest Aerospace workers anywhere on the planet by failing to meet your expectations.
Despite meeting late into the night and throughout the day, continued contract talks with the Boeing Company did not address our issues. Armed with your strong strike vote, the IAM Negotiating Committee continues to try and convince the Company to meet our members’ demands.
Your Negotiating Committee appreciates the support of all of our members during this interim time period and will appreciate your continued support as we picket the gates at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, September 6.
I want to thank the mediation service, who diligently tried to help secure a contract short of a strike to avoid hardships on our members. Unfortunately, those services did not secure an offer.
We are ON STRIKE at 12:01am tonight.
If this Company wants to talk, they have my number, they can reach me on the picket line.
District President and
Directing Business Representative
Boeing responded shortly after with this statement:
"Over the past two days, Boeing, the union and the federal mediator worked hard in pursuing good-faith explorations of options that could lead to an agreement. Unfortunately the differences were too great to close," said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The IAM has called for a strike to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6. Boeing operations in Washington, Oregon and Kansas will remain open. Employees who are not represented by the IAM are expected to report for work as normal.
During the work stoppage, Boeing will support its customers and their airplanes in service. The company will continue delivering airplanes that were completed prior to the strike, and will continue providing customers with spare parts. Boeing does not intend to assemble airplanes during the strike.