Boeing Locks Out US Firefighter Union Amid Wage Battle

A Boeing 737 MAX 7, the newest version of Boeing’s fastest-selling airplane, is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Renton, Wash

Mary ManleyThe two parties have been negotiating since February, but on Saturday morning Boeing forced the workers out after the union turned down their final offer. Boeing, a company already facing political and regulatory scrutiny over its safety practices, locked out 125 of its unionized firefighters and emergency responders from their jobs in Washington state over the weekend amid a new four-year contract battle. The contract battle is primarily over wages.The International Association of Fire Fighters Local I-66 and Boeing have been in negotiations since February. But on Saturday, the manufacturer officially locked out the union in the state of Washington after the firefighters turned down Boeing’s final offer, making it the first in four decades that such an incident has occurred in the US.”Despite extensive discussions through an impartial federal mediator, we did not reach an agreement with the union,” Boeing said in a statement Saturday. “We are disappointed the union chose not to even bring our offer to its members for one final vote.Boeing also claimed that despite locking out the union members, they have “fully implemented” their “contingency plan with highly qualified firefighters performing the work of IAFF members”.The union that Boeing locked out was tasked with responding to any fires or similar incidents that happened at the manufacturer’s work site, and also trained other Boeing employees on fire safety practices. But union members said they were earning nearly 30% less than firefighters at other nearby municipal fire departments.The union has accused Boeing of choosing “corporate greed over safety” and have said that the lockout – when an employer forces workers off a job in the hopes of gaining leverage in negotiations – was “intended to punish, intimidate, and coerce its firefighters into accepting a contract that undervalues their work.”“When is Boeing going to make safety a priority? When is Boeing finally going to listen?” Casey Yeager, the union’s president, said in a statement. He added that the lockout could pull resources form other fire departments in the area, as well.Boeing’s decision to lock out the firefighter union is the latest in a series of safety practice concerns permeating the media. On January 5, a door plug panel tore off a new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 at 16,000 feet. Though the situation could have been tragic, no one was seriously injured. The Federal Aviation Administration announced in an audit of the company in March “multiple instances” in which Boeing and a key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, failed to meet quality-control mandates.That same month, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun announced that he would step down by the end of the year. The company also replaced its chairman and chief executive of its commercial plane unit.AmericasOutgoing Boeing CEO Bags $33 Million Pay-Off Despite B737 Max Accidents6 April, 11:43 GMT


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