Boeing Machinists Union Negotiates Mid-Contract Pay Raise
In an unusual turn of events, the Machinists union of Boeing has successfully negotiated a rare mid-contract pay raise for thousands of its members. It would give a $4-per-hour increase in minimum pay rates.
The Machinists’ current contract was approved five years ago, and it had set pay rates through 2024. However, last year, after years of job cuts and attrition, management reacted to an acute labor shortage by offering new hires wages that were much higher than stipulated in the contract. It meant some new hires were earning more than their colleagues in the same job. On this point, the union successfully argued that management needed to fix the disparity by raising minimum pay rates in the contract.
As per a bulletin issued to its members, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), District 751, explained that the union possesses the legal right to demand to negotiate over the impact whenever management unilaterally changes “working conditions or company policies.”
“When an employer changes our working conditions, we have choices to make to protect our members,” the bulletin said. “You all understand the morale issue this caused in the shop.”
As far Boeing is concerned, this would make it easier for Boeing to hire people in the region’s tight labor market. And in the current scenario, minimum-wage laws in cities including Seattle mean even many fast-food franchises are offering starting wages of $15 per hour.
In a statement issued by the company, it said Boeing is committed to offering competitive pay.
“We want to ensure we are compensating employees for their valuable work and enhancing our ability to attract, retain, and engage employees,” Boeing said.
District 751 president Jon Holden said nearly 16,000 Machinists, more than half of his members, will get a pay raise as a result. As per the Union, before this agreement, average pay for all IAM-represented workers was $35.06 an hour – or nearly $73,000 a year before overtime.
“It’s a substantial increase for our folks, but some aren’t receiving anything,” Holden said. “It’s positive when we get anything. But there was leverage only to address the lower wage rates.”
The agreement now gives a $4-per-hour increase to the minimum pay rate for all grades of mechanics, retroactive to Jan. 1. It implies most newly hired mechanics will start at $19 per hour. The deal separately sets a minimum wage of $15 per hour for janitors employed in the facility and it also offers small bumps in hourly rates for promotions and for working late shifts.
In order to avoid similar pay disparities emerging again in future, Boeing also agreed to review the pay of previous hires when it offers higher rates to new hires “to ensure their current pay rate aligns with equivalent experience factors.”
Management has also agreed to make such pay adjustments retroactive to the date at which it starts to bring in new employees at the higher rates. The details of the agreement were first reported in a Bainbridge Island-based aviation consulting and news service website.