300 U.S. Machinists Strike at Boeing Plant

Some 300 machinists are striking at a Boeing Co. airliner components factory after rejecting a labor contract over job security and benefits.

"We are prepared to strike as long as we need to," union local president Mike Minor said Tuesday, the third day of the walkout.

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 2709 on Saturday rejected the company's three-year contract offer by a 240-30 vote. The old contract expired at midnight Saturday.

"We are still keeping our commitments to our customers," Boeing spokeswoman Ann Schmidt told The Knoxville News Sentinel. "No work will be interrupted. We have a contingency plan, and it's active."

No new negotiations were scheduled, however.

It is the first strike in the history of the 25-year-old factory, which makes subassemblies for commercial airliners, including flight deck consoles for Boeing 737s, 747s, 767s, 777s and 787s, defense products and centrifuge components for the uranium-enrichment industry.

"This contract offer rewards employees and provides significant increases in pay and retirement," said Gary Bomhoff, director of operations at Boeing-Tennessee.

However, the union said there remains a "fairness" issue involving incentive bonuses, severance and fully paid health insurance offered salaried workers but not hourly workers.

Also, the company wants to include a "point of use" clause that would allow vendors to perform inventory, dispatching and logistics functions in the Boeing facility, Minor said.

"I have e-mails from (union) folks from Seattle and California and they talk about having that language in their contract and what it did to their work force," Minor said. "It took away a lot of jobs. They subcontracted a whole lot of things."

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